Landbruget optager næsten halvdelen af EU's jordareal, hvilket gør landbrugssektoren til en af de største kilder til belastningen af Europas miljø. Over de sidste 50 år har Den Europæiske Unions fælles landbrugspolitik  — der tegner sig for omkring halvdelen af EU-budgettet — opmuntret sektoren til at blive mere og mere intensiv, ligesom den stigende globalisering af verdensøkonomien.

Landbrugssektoren er således ansvarlig for en stor del af næringsstofforureningen af overfladevand og have, for faldet i biodiversiteten og for pesticidrester i grundvandet. Reformerne af den fælles landbrugspolitik i 1990’erne har sammen med landbrugssektorens egne foranstaltninger medvirket til visse forbedringer, men flere er påkrævet, hvis der skal bringes balance i landbrugsproduktionen, udviklingen af landdistrikter og miljøet.

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Use of freshwater resources Use of freshwater resources Despite renewable water is abundant in Europe, signals from long-term climate and hydrological assessments, including on population dynamics, indicate that there was 24% decrease in renewable water resources per capita across Europe between 1960 and 2010, particularly in southern Europe. The densely populated river basinsin different parts of Europe, which correspond to 11 % of the total area of Europe, continue to be hotspots for water stress conditions, and, in the summer of 2014, there were 86 million inhabitants in these areas. Around 40 % of the inhabitants in the Mediterranean region lived under water stress conditions in the summer of 2014. Groundwater resources and rivers continue to be affected by overexploitation in many parts of Europe, especially in the western and eastern European basins. A positive development is that water abstraction decreased by around 7 % between 2002 and 2014. Agriculture is still the main pressure on renewable water resources. In the spring of 2014, this sector used 66 % of the total water used in Europe. Around 80 % of total water abstraction for agriculture occurred in the Mediterranean region.  The total irrigated area in southern Europe increased by 12 % between 2002 and 2014, but the total harvested agricultural production decreased by 36 % in the same period in this region. On average, water supply for households per capita is around 102 L/person per day in Europe, which means that there is 'no water stress'. However, water scarcity conditions created by population growth and urbanisation, including tourism, have particularly affected small Mediterranean islands and highly populated areas in recent years. Because of the huge volumes of water abstracted for hydropower and cooling, the hydromorphology and natural hydrological regimes of rivers and lakes continue to be altered. The targets set in the water scarcity roadmap, as well as the key objectives of the Seventh Environment Action Programme in the context of water quantity, were not achieved in Europe for the years 2002–2014.

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