Policies related to agriculture and environment in the European Community

Policies related to agriculture and environment in the European Community

Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol. 29. Nos 6-12, pp. 508-514, 1994 ~ Pergamon 0025-326X(95)00014-3 Copyright © 1995 Elsevier Science Ltd Printed in G...

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Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol. 29. Nos 6-12, pp. 508-514, 1994




Copyright © 1995 Elsevier Science Ltd Printed in Great Britain. All rights rc~rved 0025-326X/94 $7.00+ 0.130

Policies Related to Agriculture and Environment in the European Community HUBERT TUNNEY*

Agricultural Research, Education and Development Authority ( Teagasc), Johnstown Castle Research Centre, Wexford, Republic of Ireland

problems have increased with time and also other problems that were not evident then have since become obvious, such as eutrophication in the seas as a result of nutrients from agriculture. The first United Nations Environmental Summit was held, in Stockholm, 21 years ago and EC policy and legislation on the environment started to develop from that time. Individual EC Member States started to develop their own legislation to protect the environment. The 1992 Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, indicates that protection of the global environment will continue to be of major importance in international affairs in the future. In 1987 the Single European Act (SEA) and subsequent developments towards the single market gave a new impetus to EC environmental legislation. For the first time the SEA gave a clear legal basis for EC environmental legislation and it became more urgent that this legislation, in Member States, should not be a barrier to Policy for environment protection is recent with most free trade or cause distortion of competition. This often legislation and programmes developed over the past 20 gave rise to the situation where legislation in one Member years. Legislation and policies to reduce pollution from State led to a call for legislation at EC level so as to agriculture is even more recent and is still in its infancy. prevent distortion of competition. The Treaty of the Only over the past 10 years has the emphasis gradually European Union (TEU) further strengthened the legal changed from increased agricultural production to conbasis for actions at EC level to protect the environment. cern with over production and the possible environmental Since 1972 more than 200 pieces of EC legislation, consequences from intensive agriculture. mostly directives, relating to environment protection The 1957 Treaty setting up the European Economic have been adopted by Council and have been or are being Community (EEC) does not refer directly to pollution or implemented in the Member States. This legislation has protection of the environment. Awareness of man's been a major factor in increasing public awareness and impact on the environment was considerably increased in improving the environment. However, it takes time to the 1960s with the environment movement particularly in have this legislation adopted and implemented and the USA and the publication of books by Rachel Carson sometimes progress is slow. The first piece of environ(The Silent Spring) and Barry Commoner, later followed mental legislation relating to water and agriculture was by many others. This increased awareness arose from the Nitrate Directive (91/676/EEC) which was adopted in anthropogenic impacts such as water pollution of the 1991 and aims at reducing and preventing pollution of Great Lakes in the USA, the disappearance of birds of water by nitrates from agricultural sources. prey attributed to pesticide use, smog, increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and many other similar indicators of the consequences of pollution. These Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy

This paper summarizes recent EC policy relating to agriculture and the environment. The important changes in the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy are outlined and in particular the agri-environmental measures that provide for Member States to aid farmers that take measures to reduce pollution from intensive agriculture and improve the rural environment. The Nitrate Directive, which is the first EC Directive relating to agriculture and the environment, is summarized. Other water directives relevant to agriculture and the aquatic environment as they relate to nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) in water are also outlined. The EC Fifth Action Programme on the Environment as it relates to agriculture is also considered. Finally, an attempt is made to assess the likely impact of these policies on agriculture and the aquatic environment.

*The author worked as an expert with the C o m m i s s i o n of the European Communities, Directorate General for the Environment (DG XI); however this article reflects the views of the a u t h o r and not necessarily the views of the Commission.


In 1992 the Council of Agricultural Ministers agreed a significant reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Overproduction and its effect on the EC budget was an important factor in deciding the need for CAP

Volume29/Numbers6-12 reform, and the Council Decision (EEC/88/377) concerning budgetary discipline made the need for reform more urgent. From 1984 onwards, a number of decisions relating to agricultural production were taken at EC level. These included milk quotas and co-responsibility levies in addition to structural measures such as promoting afforestation, protecting sensitive environment areas, diversifying agriculture and set-aside of cultivated land. However, these measures did not have the necessary impact and it was decided to make a more radical review of the way in which payments are made for agricultural production. In the reform many basic mechanisms of the CAP have been retained including common price agreement by the Council, common protection against products from outside the EC by threshold prices and the use of public intervention on the agricultural markets. These factors will continue to play a part though at a different level. In deciding on the reform the Council followed the three main guidelines laid down in the Commission's proposal (COM/91/258): • a substantial reduction in prices of agricultural products to increase competitivity; • compensation for the price reduction by premiums that are not directly related to the actual quantities produced; • retain quotas and introduce new measures to limit production by set-aside and by limiting premiums to two livestock units (LU) ha-1 In addition the Council decided to strengthen measures to protect the environment, encourage retirement of elderly farmers and promote the use of agricultural land for forestry and leisure activities. These measures are referred to as the accompanying measures to the CAP reform. These decisions in the CAP reform mean the following changes: • agricultural price support will no longer be provided mainly through price support related to production but also through compensatory payments or premiums; • the Community is more than self-sufficient in agricultural production covered by guaranteed prices and therefore no longer needs to increase production; • the Community is the leading agricultural trader and by changing its rules is showing a willingness to move towards international free trade. The new decisions will be implemented gradually over the three marketing years 1993, 1994 and 1995 and the impact will be mainly in a. arable crops, and b. meat production. With arable crops, cereals for example, producers may receive payments (an average of about 225 ECU h a - ~ in 1995 for cereals) to compensate for the price reductions (intervention price reduction from 150 to 100 ECU t-1 over the 3 years) provided they withdraw 15% of the cultivated land from production (set-aside). Small producers with an area that produces less than 92 t of cereals (about 20 ha) will not have to use set-aside. For livestock production, the livestock density eligible for premium payment will be reduced over the 3 years to 2 LU ha- 1 of forage area by 1996 and the intervention beef price will be reduced by 15% gradually over the 3 years. Producers continue to qualify for the premium of 90 ECU yr- 1 for each male beef animal (not more than a total of two payments per any one animal and a maximum of 90

animals per producer) and 120 ECU yr-1 for suckling cows, which could be equivalent to approximately the same premium per hectare paid to cereal producers. The restrictions on density do not apply to small holdings with less than 15 LU. There are other conditions which may involve higher or lower premiums. In order to encourage extensification, an extra 30 ECU per head will be paid for male animals and suckler cows where the owner can demonstrate that the number of animals over the year has been less than 1.4 LU ha -1 of forage. Intervention purchases of beef will be gradually reduced from 750 000 t in 1993 to 350 000 t in 1997.

Accompanying Measures to CAP Reform The reform of the CAP can be divided into a. the market measures already briefly described above, and b. the accompanying measures. The accompanying measures allow Member States to aid three specific types of action: • protection of the environment (EEC Reg. No. 2078/92) known as agri-environmental measures; • early retirement of certain categories of farmers (EEC Reg. No. 2079/92); • afforestation of agricultural lands (EEC Reg. No. 2080/92). The policy is to help integrate the EC environment policy in the reform of the CAP. For protection of the environment, Article 130 of the Treaty (Single European Act (1987), Art. 130 R; Treaty of European Union (1992) Art. 130 R) establishes the following: • the principle of precaution and preventive actions; • the priority to correction of pollution at source; • the polluter pays principle.

Agri-environmental measures The agri-environmental measures recognize the role of farmers in the management of the countryside and the protection of the environment in the interest of the public. Subject to positive effects on the environment and the countryside, the scheme may include aid to farmers who undertake certain actions for the following.

1. Reducing pollution • substantially to reduce the use of fertilizers and plant protection products, maintain reductions already made and introduce or continue with organic farming methods; • use other methods of extensive crop production or maintain extensive production introduced in the past or convert arable land to extensive grassland; • to reduce stocking density of sheep and cattle per unit forage area.

2. Maintenance of countryside and landscape • to use other farming practices compatible with the protection of the environment and natural resources or rear local breeds of animals in danger of extinction; • to maintain upkeep of abandoned farmland and woodland; • to set aside farmland, for at least 20 years, for environmental purposes (biotopes, nature reserves, water protection); • to manage land for public access and leisure. 509

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• scheme may include aid to improve training of farmers for farming and forestry practices compatible with the environment. The nature and amount of aid is governed by a number of factors: • annual premium per ha; • annual premium per LU by which the herd is reduced; • contract for at least 5 years; • one or several undertakings; • conform to zonal programmes. The amount of Community part-financing shall be 75% in objective 1 regions (Art. 1 EEC Reg. No. 2052/88) and 50% in the other regions. Table 1 shows the maximum amount eligible for co-financement. Member States may stipulate that a farmer's undertaking may be for an overall plan for the entire holding or for a part of it and the aid may be limited to a maximum per holding. The aid programmes will be based on multiannual zonal programmes that reflect the diversity of the environment, natural conditions, agricultural structures, main types of farming practiced and Community environmental priorities. Each zonal programme shall cover an area that is homogenous in terms of the environment and countryside. Zonal programmes must be drawn up for a period of at least 5 years and contain the following information: • the geographical limit of the area (zone); • a description of the natural, environmental and structural characteristics of the area; • the proposed objectives and justification; • indications how the programme will meet the objective of EC environmental legislation; • conditions for the grant of aid for the amount of aid in relation to undertakings (loss of revenue + incentive), and for controls to ensure that undertakings are carried out; • an estimate of annual expenditure; • arrangements to provide information for farmers. Member States may introduce an aid scheme for a. training courses, and b. demonstration projects for agricultural and forestry production practices aimed at protecting the environment and natural resources and maintaining the countryside, and codes of good farming TABLE 1 Maximum eligible for co-financement(normally50% by the Communitybut 75% in Objective I regions).

ECU ha - 1

180 250 400 1000 700 250 600 250 350

Annualcrops coveredby the market regulations Otherannual crops and pasture Olivegroves Citrusfruit Otherperennialcrops and wine Upkeepof abandonedland 'Ecological'set aside (20 yearsminimum) Propagationof crops threatenedby geneticerosion For annual crops and pasture where the farmer agrees to reduceimputsor use moreextensivefarmingand at the same time agreesto use methodscompatiblewiththe environment and managementof the countrysideor rear animalsin danger of extinction


210 For each LU reduced 100 For each LU of endangeredspecies reared 510

practice or good organic farming practice. This aid shall not exceed 2500 ECU per person completing a full course. The EC contribution may be used for training initiatives by local and non-government organizations. Member States had to communicate to the Commission by the 30 July 1993 their draft general regulatory framework and the draft zonal programmes and the legal instruments by which they intend to apply the Regulation. The Commission then examined the programmes submitted to determine the compliance with the Regulation; the nature of measures eligible for part-financing; and the total eo-finaneiable expenditure. The Commission then decided on the approval of the programmes submitted after consultation with the Agricultural Structures and Rural Development Committee (STAR).


In addition to the agri-environmental measures, afforestation aid is intended to provide an alternative use for agricultural land and encourage the development of forestry. It may comprise • aid for afforestation costs (up to 4000 ECU ha- t); • an allowance per hectare to cover maintenance cost (for first 5 years); • an annual allowance per hectare to cover loss of income (up to 600 ECU h a - l ) ; • aid for the improvement of woodlands.

Early retirement

The scheme permits Member States, if they so choose, to grant aid to farmers and farm workers, aged at least 55 years who wish to cease work before the normal retirement age. Early retirement aid may take the form of a retirement grant, an annual compensation (independent of land area 4000 ECU), an annual allowance per hectare (250 ECU h a - 1, up to a maximum of 10 000 ECU), and a retirement pension supplement where necessary. This scheme is intended to help increase holdings to a viable size and to ensure that the land made available is farmed in an environment friendly way.

The Nitrate Directive The Council Directive concerning the protection of water from pollution by nitrates from agricultural sources was adopted by the Council of Environmental Ministers in December 1991 (EEC/91/676). The increasing nitrate concentration in waters in many areas of the Community has been a cause for concern for many years, particularly as that in groundwater in many intensive agricultural areas was higher than the limit in the World Health Organizations guidelines for drinking water and than the limits set in the Community's Drinking Water Directive (EEC/80/778). The Drinking Water Directive sets a Maximum Admissible Concentration (MAC) for nitrate in drinking water, intended for human consumption, of 50 mg 1-1. The same standard is also applied in the directive on the quality of surface water intended for the abstrac-

Volume29/Numbers6-12 tion of drinking water (EEC/75/440). The nitrate level in groundwater in many intensive agricultural areas of the Community has been increasing at an average rate of 2 mg nitrate 1-1 yr- 1, and there are a number of areas in the Community where the nitrate concentation in groundwater is more than double the limits set for drinking water. Thus, several Member States started programmes to limit the nitrate pollution of water. It then became necessary to adopt a Common Community approach to ensure that nitrate pollution could be controlled without distorting competition between Member States. Agriculture is the main source of nitrate pollution of water in the Community, usually accounting for over 60% of total nitrate loss to water. However, urban waste water is also an important source of nitrate pollution. The Urban Waste Water Directive, which includes measures to limit nitrates from this source, was adopted in May 1991 (EEC/91/271). In Denmark, for example, where a high level of urban waste water treatment already exists, it is estimated that agricultural sources contribute approximately 80% of the total nitrate loss to waters. The Nitrate Directive aims at reducing and preventing water pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources in order to comply with the limit of 50 mg nitrate 1- t. It also aims to reduce and prevent problems of eutrophication of coastal and marine waters caused by nitrates.

Monitoring of polluted waters and vulnerable zones The Directive required Member States to monitor the nitrate concentration in their fresh surface waters and groundwaters over a period of 1 year and also to review the eutrophic state of their waters before the end of 1993. Waters polluted or likely to be polluted must be identified. Details of the monitoring required to identify polluted waters is covered in Article 6 and Annex 1 ofthe Directive. This should include existing information which has been obtained in application of the Surface Water for Abstraction of Drinking Water Directive (EEC/75/440) and the Drinking Water Directive (EEC/80/778) and in addition should include other sampling stations, which are representative of surface waters and groundwaters of Member States. The Directive states that waters that contain or could contain 50 mg nitrate 1-1 (if no action is taken), should be regarded as polluted. Water containing 50 mg nitrate 1-1 or more would be identified as polluted and water with a lower level of nitrate but increasing in a way that it could reach 50 mg nitrate 1-1, would also be identified as polluted. The monitoring of water for pollution is also necessary to determine the effectiveness of the action programme that must be implemented to reduce pollution (see below). After identifying polluted waters Member States must have designated the catchment areas draining into the polluted waters as vulnerable zones by the end of 1993. Some Member States, for example Denmark, indicated their intention to designate all their territory as a vulnerable zone. The rivers from these states drain into the North Sea, which, because of eutrophication problems, is considered to be polluted by nitrates of agricultural origin. Other Member States designated specific areas (not all their territory) such as river catchments as

vulnerable zones. Member States that designated all their territory as a vulnerable zone, ensure the same criteria apply to all farmers.

Codes of good agricultural practice With the aim of providing all waters with a general level of protection against pollution by nitrates from agriculture, Member States must, within 2 years, have established codes of good agricultural practice, Programmes to train and inform farmers about the implementation of the codes, must also be set up. These codes, outlined in Annex II of the Directive, require that farming is practised in a way that minimizes the pollution of water by nitrates. For example, the codes should set procedures for the land application of fertilizer and livestock manure that will maintain nitrate loss to water at an acceptable level. The codes should also set out acceptable times and suitable soil conditions for nitrogen application. The codes were to be voluntary throughout the European Community but legally binding in vulnerable zones.

Action programmes Member States had to establish action programmes for vulnerable zones with the purpose of meeting the objective of reducing and preventing nitrate pollution. The first action programmes should be established during the 2 years 1994 and 1995 and different action programmes may be necessary in different vulnerable zones. The first 4 year action programme will be for 1996 to 1999 inclusive. It is the responsibility of each Member State to set limits appropriate to their vulnerable zones and there is no specific limit set in the Directive. However, the action programmes must also include measures to ensure that, for each farm or livestock unit, the amount of livestock manure applied to land each year, including by animals themselves, shall not exceed 170 kg N ha -1. This corresponds to a limit of 2 LU ha- 1. In the first 4 year action programme Member States may set this limit at up to 210 kg. The Directive also requires Member States to take additional measures or reinforced actions that they consider necessary if, at the outset or from experience gained in implementing the action programmes, the measures outlined in the Directive are not adequate to meet the objectives of reducing and preventing nitrate pollution.

Reviews and reporting The monitoring of waters for nitrate and the review of the eutrophic state of waters must be repeated every 4 years. The designation of vulnerable zones must also be reviewed every 4 years to take account of any changes in pollution of water since the previous designation. The action programmes must also be reviewed and if necessary revised at least every 4 years including additional action measures if necessary. In addition, every 4 years Member States must report to the Commission giving details of implementation of the Directive, maps showing 511

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polluted waters and vulnerable zones, and a summary of the action programmes and the monitoring results. The first such report will be due in early 1996. The Commission will then produce a synthesis report based on the information received from the Member States. A Committee representing the Member States has been set up under Article 9 of the Directive to assist the Commission with implementation of the Directive, including creating guidelines for monitoring of waters and adapting the Annexes to scientific and technical progress. It is hoped that this Committee can also help communications between Member States;~ ensure exchange of information and a harmonized approach on all relevant aspects of the Directive. Each Member State should have brought into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions, necessary to comply with the Directive before the end of 1993. It was also planned that European Free Trade Area (EFTA) countries will implement this Directive together with other environmental legislation in preparation for joining the EC. As shown above the Member States had to achieve much before the end of 1993 to ensure that the Directive is implemented effectively. This includes introducing legislation, monitoring waters, designating vulnerable zones and establishing codes of good agricultural practice. The Committee met to help resolve questions and ensure a harmonized approach. This is an Article 130s Directive in the Treaty establishing the EEC and it allows for Member States to take additional and more stringent measures to this Directive in order to protect water from nitrate pollution.

Other Water Directives There are over 30 items of EC legislation, mostly directives, relating to water. The best known and perhaps most successful are the Drinking Water Directive (EEC/80/778) and the Bathing Water Directive (EEC/76/160). This is partly due to the public awareness of these two directives, and they have greatly contributed to improvement in the quality of drinking and bathing water in the EC. Some of the EC legislation aimed at protecting the aquatic environment sets limits for nutrients in water although most of these limits are not aimed at preventing eutrophication. Most of the references to nitrogen and phosphorus in EC environmental legislation set limits in directives relating to drinking water. The first EC Council Directive relating to water was adopted in June 1975 and concerns the quality required of surface water intended for the abstraction of drinking water (EEC/75/440). This Directive sets a guideline value for phosphates in water, being abstracted for drinking, equivalent to 0.4 mg P20 s 1-1 for water receiving simple physical treatment only and 0.7 mg P205 1-1 for water receiving more advanced treatment. For nitrates the limit value is 50 mg 1-1 and there is a guideline value of 25 mg 1-1 The Dangerous Substances Directive, relating to pollution caused by certain dangerous substances discharged to the aquatic environment (EEC/76/464) and 512

also the subsequent Groundwater Directive (EEC/80/68) requires Member States to eliminate pollution of waters by List I substances and to reduce pollution of water by List II substances. List II substances include inorganic compounds of phosphorus and elemental phosphorus. The Dangerous Substances Directive requires Member States to employ emission standards, quality objectives for water for point sources of pollution, specific provisions governing use and deadlines for implementation of programmes. The Fresh-Water Fish Directive (EEC/78/659) does not set a limit for phosphorus, but it is observed that total phosphorus equivalent to 0.2 mg PO 4 (0.066 mg P) 1-1 for salmonid and 0.4 mg PO41-1 for cyprinid waters may be regarded as sufficient to reduce eutrophication. The Drinking Water Directive (EEC/80/778) sets a maximum admissible concentration (MAC) for total phosphorus in drinking water equivalent to 5 mg P205 1-1 and a guide level (GL) of 0.4 mg P:O 5 1-1. The limit value for nitrate is 50 mg 1-1 and the guide value is 25 mg 1-1 The Urban Waste Water Directive (EEC/91/271) sets limits for total phosphorus in discharges from waste water treatment plants, to sensitive areas that are subject to eutrophication, of 1 mg P 1-1 and 10 mg N 1- I for over 100 000 and 2 mg P 1-1 and 15 mg N 1-1 for between 10 000 and 100 000 population equivalents. This Directive also requires that disposal of sludge to surface waters by dumping from ships, by discharge from pipelines or by other means is phased out by 31 December 1998. This includes disposal of sludge in the North Sea. The Nitrate Directive does not cover phosphate. However, the Council recognized the importance of a global coherent approach to nitrates and phosphates and it was understood that the Commission will examine the phosphate situation in the light of the application of the Nitrate and Urban Waste Water Directives and, if necessary, make appropriate proposals to the Council. The recent Directive relating to Placing of Plant Protection Products on the Market (EEC/91/414) is not primarily a water directive, however it does provide for restrictions on the use of pesticides that could pollute water. Pesticide pollution of drinking water is an increasing problem in several intensive agricultural areas in the EC. In addition to the above legislation, the Ministerial Declaration at the 2nd North Sea Ministerial Conference held in 1987, set a target of reducing nitrate and phosphate inputs into surface waters where these inputs are likely directly or indirectly to cause pollution by 50% by 1995 compared with 1985.

Towards Sustainability, EC Fifth A c t i o n Programme on the Environment This Programme (COM (92) 23) sets out the EC programme for policies and actions in relation to environment and development up to the year 2000. It differs from the previous four programmes (which started in 1973) in that it aims less at legislation and puts emphasis on mobilizing the authorities to work towards

Volume29/Numbers6-12 sustainable development, as this is essential for future economic development. Five target sectors have been selected for special attention under this programme, namely: industry, energy, transport, agriculture and tourism. With regard to agriculture it recognizes that many of the original Treaty objectives have been fulfilled including assuring the availability of food supplies at reasonable prices, the stabilization of markets and a fair standard of living for the agricultural community. At the same time, however, changes in farming practices in many regions of the Community have led to over-exploitation and degradation of the natural resources of soil, water and air on which agriculture itself ultimately depends. In addition to the environmental degradation it is recognized that serious problems have emerged in the case of commodity overproduction and storage, rural depopulation, the Community budget and international trade (both as regards agricultural products and wider trade agreements). It is not only environmentally desirable, therefore, but also makes sound agricultural, social and economic sense to seek to strike a more sustainable balance between agricultural activity, other forms of rural development and the natural resources. The Programme builds on the reform of the CAP and sets objectives and targets up to the year 2000 together with proposed Community actions. These actions include emission standards for ammonia, a reduction programme for phosphates, a reduction in the use of pesticides in addition to measures already covered in the accompanying measures to the CAP reform. In addition to the agricultural sector, actions in other parts of the Programme such as water acidification and nature will also have an impact on agriculture.

Conclusions The major concerns for the North Sea as it relates to pollution from agriculture come from nutrients, particularly nitrogen and to a lesser extent phosphorus and also pesticides. Recent experience indicates that the efforts to reduce nutrient pollution from agriculture have not been very effective and there is still a lot to learn and a lot more to be done in this regard. EC policies have only recently started to address these problems and it will take some years before the effectiveness of these policies is evident. It is possible, even probable that new measures will be necessary, based on experience gained with the existing policies, to effectively reduce nutrient loss. Nutrient loss from agriculture has increased several fold over the past 50 years and it will take many years to reduce it as soil fertility has been increased to a high level in many regions and reducing surplus nutrient inputs is the first essential step. However, loss from existing high levels of fertility will continue for some years. The diffuse nature of nutrient pollution from agriculture makes it difficult to control. For measures to be effective it is necessary to be able to control their implementation and this is particularly difficult in agriculture. It is therefore necessary, as far as possible, to

convince farmers of the need for action and to have their support. Many Member States of the European Community are considering ways of ensuring that nutrient loss from agriculture can be reduced more effectively, for example a balance sheet of nutrient inputs and outputs at farm level with a tax on surpluses. The nutrient suplus can be very large on some farms and this is reflected in nutrient surplus at EC level. For example, approximately 2 × 106 t of phosphorus (P) are imported for use in agriculture each year, however, the export of P is less than 20% of this. This surplus of inputs over outputs has continued for the past 30 years with the result that soil phosphorus fertility is often very high and a small but increasing proportion of soil is saturated with phosphorus resulting in an increased loss to water. It would be possible to half the use of phosphorus in EC agriculture without reducing production and at the same time reduce water pollution. This excessive input of phosphorus is not sustainable. The situation with nitrogen is similar but less easy to demonstrate as much of the nitrogen fertilizer applied returns to the atmosphere. The use of nitrogen fertilizer in the late 1960s was about half that today in the EC countries. Halving the input of nitrogen fertilizer would be more appropriate to the present food production needs of the EC and it would also be more sustainable in terms of the environment. Agricultural production methods must adapt to be more compatible with environmental sustainability than they have been in recent years. There should be no doubt that the agricultural industry is capable of making the necessary changes and is willing to do so but these changes will take time.

Council directives EEC/75/440, O.J. N L 194, 25.7.1975, p. 26. Quality of surface water intended for abstraction of drinking water. EEC/76/160, O.J. N L 131, 5.2.1976, p. 1. Quality of bathing water. EEC/76/464, O.J. N L 129, 18.5.1976, p. 23. Pollution caused by certain dangerous substances discharged to the aquatic environment. EEC/78/659, O.J. N L 222, 14.8.1976, p. 23. Quality of fresh water to support fish life. EEC/80/68, O.J. N L 20, 26.1.1980, p. 43. Protection of groundwater against pollution by certain dangerous substances. EEC/80/778, O.J. N L 229, 30.8.1980, p. 11. Quality of water intended for human consumption. EEC/91/271, O.J. N L 135, 30.5.1991, p. 40. Urban waste water treatment. EEC/91/414, O.J. N L 230, 19.8.1991, p. 1. Placing of plant protection products on the market. EEC/91/676, O.J. N L 375, 31.12.1991, p. 1. Protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources. Council regulations EEC/88/2052, O.J. N L 185, 15.7.1988, p. 9. Rules governing the structural funds. EEC/92/2078, O.J, N L 215, 30.7.1992, p. 85. Agricultural production methods compatible with the requirements of 513

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the protection of the environment and the maintenance of the countryside. EEC/92/2079, O.J. N L 216, 30.7.1992, p. 91. Early retirement from farming. EEC/92/2080, O.J. N L 217, 30.7.1992, p. 96. Forestry measures in agriculture. Council decisions EEC/88/377, O.J. N L 185, 15.7.1988, p. 29. Budgetary discipline.


Commission proposals COM (91) 258, final/3, 22.7.1991. The Development and future of the Common Agricultural Policy, follow up to the reflection paper. COM/91/100 of 1.2.1991. Communication of the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament. COM (92) 23 final-Vol II. Towards Sustainability. A European Community programme of policy and actions in relation to the environment and sustainable development.