In 1991, the EU introduced the Nitrates Directive, which aimed to reduce water pollution caused or induced by nitrate from agricultural sources. The Directive requires Member States to apply agricultural action programme measures throughout their whole territory or within discrete nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZ’s). Action programme measures are required to promote best practice in the use and storage of fertiliser and manure by 4 key measures:
Implementation of the directive across Europe has been generally poor. However, the synthesis of Member States' reports for 2000 concludes that 'Member States have in the last years shown a real willingness to improve implementation. They realise that costs induced by drinking water treatment for nitrates or by eutrophication in reservoirs and coastal waters are still increasing. Furthermore, the investments dedicated to urban wastewater treatment will be insufficient for nutrients without a parallel focus upon the agricultural sources of nitrate.
Publications and links
Integration of environment into EU agriculture policy - the IRENA indicator-based assessment report
European Environment Agency, 2006:
Agriculture and environment in EU-15 - the IRENA indicator report. EEA Report No 6
European Environment Agency, 2005:
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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