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Commission moves towards sustainable agriculture

The European Commission has adopted a Communication to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament on "Directions towards sustainable agriculture". The purpose of this Communication is to elaborate on the approach taken by the Commission to the integration of environm...
The European Commission has adopted a Communication to the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament on "Directions towards sustainable agriculture". The purpose of this Communication is to elaborate on the approach taken by the Commission to the integration of environment in agriculture in its Agenda 2000 proposals.

The Communication shows the contribution to "sustainable agriculture" that would be achieved by the Agenda 2000 proposals for the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), according to Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Franz Fischler, commenting on the Communication which he and Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard presented jointly.

"We need to redefine the relationship between agriculture and the environment to move towards sustainable agriculture", he said.

The reform is designed to achieve necessary adjustments in the principal market regimes and a strong rural development policy, which becomes a second pillar of the CAP. Environmental considerations form an important part of the Commission's proposals and aim to reinforce farming practices which safeguard the environment and preserve the countryside. They explicitly recognise the potential of organic farming in achieving environmental improvements as well as contributing to development in rural areas.

The core of the EU's environmental strategy within the CAP is targeted agri-environmental measures for environmental services in rural areas, over and above good agricultural practice and environmental legislation. They would form an integral part of rural development programmes.

Environmental considerations are taken into account in the CAP reform package. For example, the horizontal regulation obliges Member States to apply environmental measures they consider appropriate in view of the land used and the production concerned.

Agri-environmental measures in the context of the existing accompanying measures are reinforced in Agenda 2000 and are designed to offer payments to farmers who, on a voluntary basis, provide environmental services to protect the environment and maintain the countryside. The promotion of farming in less favoured areas - though the provision of compensatory allowances will continue.
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