European Environmental Bureau

`EU Policies for Olive Farming: Towards Sustainanble Production in Europe` by WWF&Birdlife International, supported by the EEB and FoEE


Courtesy of Courtesy of European Environmental Bureau

Since the 1990s, BirdLife International and WWF, the global conservation organisation, have been voicing concern over the environmentally damaging trends in European olive farming, and calling for fundamental changes to the CAP market regime governing the sector. In 2001, a report was published, setting out the main environmental issues, and making detailed proposals for a complete reform of the subsidy system, in line with principles of sustainable, multi-functional agriculture.

Until now, EU and national decision-makers have failed to face up to this challenge. The only changes to the subsidy system (agreed in 1998) have been focused on administrative simplification and reigning back the dramatic expansion of the sector. Attempts to tackle environmental and social problems have been half-hearted at best, despite being apparent for several years. Decisions have been governed by the economic interests of governments and certain parts of the production sector, rather than by principles such as sustainability, equity or environmental integration.

In November 2003 the European Commission published proposals for a substantial reform of the olive regime that follow the pattern of the recent changes to the main arable and livestock regimes. The proposals include interesting opportunities for Member States to re-orientate the olive subsidies in favour of less intensive, environmentally valuable plantations. This paper discusses the Commission’s proposals, and the main environmental issues, while reviewing the recommendations made by BirdLife International and WWF in 2001.

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