Nästan hälften av EU:s landområden sköts av jordbrukare och jordbrukssektorn är en stor belastning på miljön i Europa. Europeiska unionens gemensamma jordbrukspolitik (GJP), som svarar för cirka hälften av EU:s budget, har under de senaste femtio åren, tillsammans med den ökade globaliseringen av världsekonomin, bidragit till ett allt intensivare jordbruk.

Detta gör att jordbrukssektorn är ansvarig för en stor andel av föroreningarna i ytvatten och hav genom gödselmedel, för förlusten av den biologiska mångfalden och för rester av bekämpningsmedel i grundvattnet. I och med att den gemensamma jordbrukspolitiken reformerats under 1990-talet och att sektorn själv vidtagit åtgärder har situationen förbättrats, men det krävs mer för att få jordbruksproduktionen, landsbygdsutvecklingen och miljön i balans.

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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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