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You are here: Home / The European environment – state and outlook 2010 / For policymakers / Common agricultural policy

Common agricultural policy

The issue

Farmers represent only 4.7 % of the EU's working population but manage nearly half of EU land. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the main EU tool supporting their work, accounting for 34 % of the EU budget in the period 2007–2013. Past CAP spending has supported the modernisation of farming and helped to intensify production with significant environmental impacts linked to soil erosion, water pollution, over-exploited water resources as well as biodiversity. Various CAP reforms since the 1990s have increasingly de-linked farm support from production, established certain environmental safeguards linked to the receipt of farm payments, and introduced rural development and agri-environment measures into the CAP. The budget share of these measures remains small, however, and increasing demand for food and biomass from farming could lead to further agricultural intensification. Certain CAP measures support extensive 'high-nature value (HNV) farmland' but this support could be better targeted. Further environmental reform of the CAP reform would be an important step in securing EU targets in relation to biodiversity protection, water quality or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Review process

The Europe 2020 Strategy notes that the CAP can contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Under its 'Innovation Union' flagship initiative, the strategy proposes to launch 'European Innovation Partnerships' between EU and national levels, including one on 'building the bio-economy by 2020'. The 2010 Commission communication on the future of the CAP after 2013 shows the way forward and proposes key improvements in environmental integration, with the review process expected to be completed by the end of 2013.

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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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