Common Agricultural Policy reform – reducing the impact of farming

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Source: European Environment Agency (EEA)

Today, the European Commission launched its proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after 2013. The key objective is ‘to strengthen the competitiveness, sustainability and permanence of agriculture throughout the EU in order to secure for European citizens a healthy and high-quality source of food, preserve the environment and develop rural areas’. The proposals tie financial support more closely to environmental goals.

“The increased focus on environmental issues in the proposed CAP reform is very welcome,” Professor Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director, said, “particularly in view of climate change and increased pressures on natural resources. The EEA will continue to provide information to support better understanding of the many dimensions and trade-offs involved.”

The CAP is one of the EU’s strongest sectoral interventions and arguably the one with the most numerous and substantial implications for the environment, shaping the European landscape and influencing agricultural practices. Intensification and increased reliance on external inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and water have caused major pressures on air and water quality, as well as on biodiversity. Agricultural practices also have an impact on climate change, both emitting greenhouse gases and affecting carbon storage.

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