EC Evaluation of the impact of CAP on water

The EC Commission have recently published ‘An Evaluation of the impact of CAP on water’

The EU agricultural sector is dependent on the availability of the water resources, but it can also significantly affect the ecological, chemical and quantitative status of water-bodies. Sustainable management of water in agriculture is emerging as a core issue in the context of climate change.

This evaluation focuses on the ‘CAP instruments and measures addressing sustainable management of natural resources and climate action’ and is based on the analysis of EU data-sets, a literature review and case studies carried out in 10 member states collected information on the implementation and observed effects of the CAP in specific River Basin Districts and its linkage with the River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) implemented under the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

The findings note that cross-compliance and the greening measures were implemented across member states to apply the mandatory environmental practices required by EU legislation but with different levels of ambition concerning the environmental objectives. Yet, according to Member States’ reporting, carried out under the RBMP, agriculture remains among the main pressures preventing the achievement of good water status for water-bodies.

The study found it difficult to assess the overall impact of the combined CAP framework on the improvement of water-bodies status, mainly due to 1) limitations of available data, and 2) varying effects of the CAP instruments and measures pursuant to Member States’  implementation choices (budget allocation, eligibility criteria, selection criteria), the level of uptake and the types of operations supported.

Therefore, Member States’ implementation choices determine the extent to which the CAP measures and instruments meet the EU objective of sustainable management of water. It recommended that Member States accurately monitor the resources allocated to “improving water management, including fertiliser and pesticide management”, as well as the output and outcomes achieved.

The evaluation also demonstrated that a considerable amount of the CAP budget is granted to holdings independently of their agricultural pressures on water. Hence, direct payments should be reconsidered in order to better support less profitable farms implementing farming practices beneficial for the environment and water resources.


Executive summary

In the past few weeks, An Fóram Uisce commissioned research on optimising water quality returns from the reform of CAP – the results are due in September 2020 and will be reported on this website.

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