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You are here: Home / Media / News / New EU states need measures to limit farming impact on environment

New EU states need measures to limit farming impact on environment

The countries joining the European Union (EU) next month need to give a central role to well-targeted rural development measures to minimise a likely increase in environmental pressures from farming after accession, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said today.

NEWS RELEASE


Copenhagen, 28 April 2004


New EU states need measures to limit farming impact on environment


The countries joining the European Union (EU) next month need to give a central role to well-targeted rural development measures to minimise a likely increase in environmental pressures from farming after accession, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said today.


Agriculture is an important factor in shaping the environment of the 10 acceding countries as well as the three candidate countries. Their farming systems currently have low inputs, low productivity and a rich variety of plant and animal species compared with the EU. Many have large farmland areas of high natural value.


However, two environmentally damaging trends are expected to become more pronounced after they join the EU.


One is a moderate intensification of agriculture in productive areas, involving greater use of fertilisers, pesticides and machinery to increase yields. The other trend is the abandonment of farming on marginal, less productive land that often hosts an abundance of wildlife.


To minimise these pressures, the acceding countries need to use the right combination of environmental instruments available under the EU common agricultural policy (CAP), according to the EEA report Agriculture and the environment in the EU accession countries.


Following reforms to the CAP, payments to farmers no longer encourage intensification of agriculture and some can be targeted to reducing land abandonment.


Making use of the measures available under the rural development part of the CAP will be especially important, the report says. Such measures include so-called agri-environmental schemes, aid for less-favoured areas, farm advisory services and aid for small, semi-subsistence farms. However, substantial administrative resources are needed to implement these measures successfully.


The main concern over land abandonment focuses on grasslands of high nature value that need limited grazing by sheep and cattle to maintain their richness. CAP payments can support farming income in such marginal areas to some extent, but in addition specific agri-environmental schemes to manage these species-rich grasslands will be needed.


Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director, said: "A new strategic vision is required to deploy agri-environment measures as a central tool of environmental management and rural development in the 10 acceding countries."


While farmers in the acceding countries will initially receive much lower direct income support than those in the current Member States, funding for rural development measures will be around the same levels as for existing members.


The full report is available at http://reports.eea.europa.eu/environmental_issue_report_2004_37


Note to editors


The 10 countries acceding to the EU on 1 May are Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia. The three candidate countries are Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.


About the EEA


The European Environment Agency is the leading public body in Europe dedicated to providing sound, independent information on the environment to policy-makers and the public. Established by the European Union in 1990 and operational in Copenhagen since 1994, the EEA is the hub of the European environment information and observation network (Eionet), a network of around 300 bodies across Europe through which it both collects and disseminates environment-related data and information. The Agency is open to all nations that share its objectives and currently has 31 member countries: the 15 EU Member States, the 13 acceding and candidate countries, and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Membership negotiations are under way with Switzerland.




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