Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Agriculture is the biggest land user in the European Union (EU). Over the centuries, European agriculture has given rise to unique landscapes with a rich variety of semi-natural habitats and species. However, modernisation introduced by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), whilst increasing agricultural production, has also been accompanied by damaging effects and adverse pressure on the environment.

Problems associated with modem agriculture include pollution of groundwater and surface water supplies by the over-use of fertilisers and run-off from intensive livestock production, damage to wildlife and plants resulting from the abusive use of pesticides and, damage to habitats and biodiversity through intensive agricultural drainage and insufficient water resource management. Although several agricultural policy reforms were attempted during the eighties to combat specific problems associated with the CAP such as its increasing cost and its tendency to produce large surpluses of major commodities, it was not until the 1992 CAP reform, by the provision of accompanying measures (e.g. voluntary agri-environment measures), that the environmental dimension was seriously taken into consideration.

Recent CAP reforms under AGENDA 2000 provide a more powerful impetus for integrating the environmental dimension into agricultural policy. The content of this reform aims to ensure that European agriculture is multi-functional, sustainable and competitive, whilst ensuring that agriculture will play an important role in preserving the countryside and natural open spaces and contribute toward the vitality of rural life. Environmental measures will be given a prominent role within the context of integrated rural development programmes implemented from the year 2000.

Additional information

Bibliographic Reference: EUR 19639 EN (2000), 18pp, Euro: Free of charge
Availability: Available from European Commission, DG XII Communication Unit rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 200, B-1049 Bruxelles (BE) Tel: +32-2-2950001 Fax:+32-2-2958220 email:
ISBN: ISBN Not Available
Record Number: 200012890 / Last updated on: 2000-11-29
Original language: en
Available languages: en