COUNCIL STRATEGY

ON ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE COMMON AGRICULTURAL POLICY ESTABLISHED BY THE AGRICULTURAL COUNCIL

1. BACKGROUND

  1. In June 1998 the European Council in Cardiff invited the Agriculture, Energy and Transport Councils to report on their strategies for environmental integration and sustainable development.
  2. In November 1998 the Agriculture Council prepared a report for the European Council,

  1. The conclusions reached at the Vienna European Council in December 1998 welcomed the initial reports of the Transport, Energy and Agriculture Councils and invited them to continue their work with a view to submitting comprehensive strategies in these sectors, including a timetable for further measures and a set of indicators, for the European Council in Helsinki in December 1999.
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  3. In 1997 the Commission submitted a publication "Agriculture and environment" which provides a very thorough and comprehensive review of the relationship between agriculture and environment. In January 1999 the Commission published a communication "Directions towards sustainable agriculture" which is a good starting point for further environmental integration and sustainable development in the agricultural sector. In July 1999 the Commission gave a publication "Agriculture, environment, rural development: Facts and Figures", which deals with the functional link between agriculture and the environment and which seeks to highlight the available statistical information about this issue.
  4. In May 1999 the Commission published a communication concerning preparation of the Kyoto Protocol implementation. This communication contains important elements for further work within the community in view of the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. The communications of the Biodiversity Strategy, the Review of the 5th Environmental Action Programme and the Report on the implementation of the Nitrates Directive should also be noted.

6. In December 1998 the Agriculture Council approved the Resolution on Forestry Strategy for the European Union. This strategy is a good example of integration process in which the responsibility for the forestry policy lies with the Member States and the need for improved co-ordination, communication and co-operation in all policy areas with relevance to the forest sector is a substantial element.

 

 

  1. STRENGTHENING ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE COMMON AGRICULTURAL POLICY (CAP)

  1. The premise of the integration strategy is the outcome of the Agenda 2000 CAP reform. The agreed reform incorporates a number of positive elements for the environment. It reinforces existing environmental measures and also creates new ones. The reform is an important step towards the closer integration of environmental aspects and sustainable development into agriculture.
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  3. The Council

 

 

3. GENERAL OBJECTIVES

  1. Integration of environmental protection and sustainability requirements into sectoral policies is a key element for successful socio-economic development as well as for improvement and implementation of environmental policy. The promotion throughout the Community of a harmonious, balanced and sustainable development of economic activities, is a main objective of EU policy such as stated in Article 2 of the Treaty. As an overarching objective, equally applying to the CAP, Article 6 of the Treaty stipulates that environmental protection requirements must be integrated into the definition and implementation of the Community policies and activities referred to in Article 3, in particular with a view to promoting sustainable development. For the CAP to follow this objective, the role that farmers play in terms of management of natural resources and landscape conservation should be reinforced.
  2. It is important to find a balance between the use of land and natural resources for agricultural production and society’s needs and values relating to the protection of the environment and cultural heritage. Sustainable agriculture calls for natural resources to be managed in a way that ensures benefits are also available in the future. It takes into account the preservation of the overall balance and value of the natural capital stock and the need for agriculture to be competitive. It redefines short, medium and long-term considerations to reflect the real socio-economic costs and benefits of consumption and conservation. The nature of land and land use are important issues within sustainable agriculture. Protecting landscapes, habitats and biodiversity, including genetic resources for food and agriculture, is an important consideration. Water and air quality are also significant.
  3. Agriculture can have beneficial as well as damaging effects on the environment. Both of these aspects have to be considered in order to understand the relationship between agriculture and the environment as a whole. The effects of farming activities, both positive and negative, vary according to local conditions and these conditions must therefore be taken into consideration when effects are measured. In areas with severe environmental problems, as a result of intensive land use, sustainability of agricultural practices should be enhanced. In identifying the environmental implications of the CAP, these have to be carefully distinguished from environmental effects resulting from the dynamics of agricultural sector development.
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  5. The objectives for the common agricultural policy are written down in Article 33 of the Treaty:

  1. Complemented by the contribution of agriculture to the viability of rural areas these objectives comprise important economic and social aspects of the sustainability approach. Agriculture plays an important role in contributing to the maintenance of employment in rural areas and in the whole food and non-food production chain.
  2. The starting point for the strategy in the agricultural sector is to maintain and promote the model of European agriculture: European agriculture must, as an economic sector, be versatile, sustainable, competitive and spread throughout the territory of Europe, including regions with specific problems. It must contribute to maintaining the countryside, conserving nature, and improving the vitality of rural life, and it must respond to consumer concerns and demands regarding food quality and safety, environmental protection and the safeguarding of animal welfare.
  3. Integration of the environment into the CAP starts by recognising that a reference level of good agricultural practices which is dependent on local conditions should be respected in all agricultural areas of the EU. The general principle is that where farmers provide services to the environment beyond the reference level of good agricultural practices, these should be adequately remunerated. Certain methods of agricultural production, for example organic farming, integrated production and traditional low-input farming and typical local productions, provide a combination of positive environmental, social and economic effects.

 

 

4. SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES

4.1. Water

  1. Targeted action should continue to reduce pollution from agriculture sources into both ground and surface water. Pollution should be reduced at least to levels compatible with sustainability. Losses of nitrate and phosphates from agricultural sources, where these lead to eutrophication and raise levels of nitrate in drinking water, should be reduced by improving the use of nutrients and minimising nutrients inputs beyond crop need.
  2. Irrigation is necessary for the continuation of agricultural production in certain areas of the EU. When negative impacts on the environment occur, they are usually caused by inappropriate use of water for irrigation (e.g. salinisation, intrusion of seawater, water shortages). Irrigation should be used in line with good agricultural practices.

 

4.2. Agrochemicals

  1. In addition to EU rules to control maximum levels of pesticides in farm produce and measures to reduce the environmental risks of pesticide use (water contamination, deterioration of biodiversity etc), further measures should be developed for sensitive areas.
  2. Plant protection products and biocides should only be used when needed and in accordance with the principles of good plant protection practices.
  3. There is a need further to reduce the risks to the environment from the use of plant protection products and biocides and to continue to ensure that there are no risks to health in their use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.3. Genetically modified organisms

  1. The precautionary principle should be carefully taken into account in the adoption processes of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The risks and benefits depend primarily on the actual trait. The risk of adverse effects on human and animal health and the environment should be scientifically assessed on a case by case basis.
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    4.4. Land use and soil

  3. The degrading physical, chemical and biological pressure of agriculture on the soil should be reduced at least to levels compatible with sustainability.
  4. In order to maintain soil quality certain farming systems, e.g. managed grazing, the presence of hedges and trees, should be promoted. Also, measures to guard against erosion and fire risk are needed as well as afforestation to make an important contribution to reducing soil erosion.

 

4.5. Climate change and air quality

  1. In response to climate change, there is a need to promote further reductions in methane and other greenhouse gases according to the goals of the Climate Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. As regards methane, attention should be focused on the farmyard manure management, on emissions from the ruminants and the development and the implementation of new cost-effective technologies, e.g feeding measures and digesters as proposed in the Methane Strategy for Reducing Methane Emission. In order to address nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions, efforts should continue to improve the use of nitrogen by crops from fertilisers and manure.
  2. High ammonia emissions lead to soil and water acidification and eutrophication and contribute to damage to forests through acidity in rainfall. Agriculture should aim to decrease ammonia emissions by developing good agricultural practices, applying proven and cost-effective techniques and reducing if necessary the amount of animals in areas with high animal density.
  3. Those investment schemes that are aimed at establishing treatment units to reduce emissions or recover waste gases should be encouraged where cost-effective while ensuring that this does not itself lead to negative environmental effects.
  4. According to the Resolution on European Forestry Strategy, the role of forests as carbon sinks and reservoirs within the Union can be best ensured through sustainable forest management and can be achieved through the protection and enhancement of existing carbon stocks, the establishment of new carbon stocks and encouraging the use of biomass and wood based products.
  5. Increased use of renewable energy from biomass and biofuels, which contribute to combating climate change, should be promoted. Non-food production should also be increased for its overall positive effects on the greenhouse gas balance while ensuring that the production methods involved do not themselves lead to any other negative environmental impact.

 

4.6. Landscape and biodiversity

  1. Landscapes and biodiversity vary a great deal across different parts of the EU. Agricultural practices have created and help to maintain the cultural landscape and the wildlife habitats dependent on agriculture. The further development of the European landscape will mainly depend on the profitability of agricultural land use. Especially in marginal regions abandonment and marginalisation of land use may contribute to undesirable changes in landscape and biodiversity. However, it also must be noted that intensification of agriculture may also contribute to undesirable changes in landscape and biodiversity.
  2. The heritage derived from the interaction between the biophysical features of landscape and agriculture, which together form the cultural landscape, should be maintained, based on programmes. The activities are needed especially in those parts of agricultural areas which are threatened by the abandonment of farming or changes towards an environmentally less favourable state of land use. Compensatory allowances in less-favoured areas should be regarded as an important element in maintaining the countryside.
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  4. For the purpose of nature conservation, important habitats have been and should continue to be identified, designated and maintained to protect flora and fauna, which are adapted to traditional agricultural environments. In regard to the planned conservation area network Natura 2000 now being harmonised throughout Europe the application of good agricultural practices and agri-environmental measures beneficial to nature conservation should also be promoted. The creation of an integrated rural development policy under Agenda 2000 CAP reform will be an important mechanism in encouraging more environmentally responsible farming.
  5. In many areas, open landscapes with natural and semi-natural elements created by agricultural practice constitute high biodiversity values, which should be conserved and maintained.
  6. Special targeted measures are needed for less-favoured areas, particularly in the most marginal ones where agricultural activity would otherwise cease and land consequently would be left unused which would have negative consequences for the natural environment and landscape.
  7. Safeguarding still existing natural to semi-natural agricultural ecosystems and other high nature value areas (keeping them entirely or partly free from use or expanding their area percentage) is a complementary task for nature conservation. Traditional farming and typical local productions contribute to safeguard certain existing natural or semi-natural ecosystems.
  8. Genetic resources for food and agriculture, in particular genetic material of crops and domestic animals should be preserved for example by agri-environmental measures and by founding and promoting gene banks. Evaluation and research of these resources with a view to their sustainable use should be advanced.

 

4.7. Animal welfare

  1. As elements of sustainable agriculture ethical production methods and animal welfare should be promoted.
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  3. To avoid over-stocking of the land and to observe animal density better in different areas, registration of farm animals should be improved where needed.

 

4.8. Forests

  1. In the forest sector there is a need for the Member States to speed up balanced and co-ordinated implementation of the Resolution on Forestry Strategy for the European Union along the follow-up of the outcomes of the Ministerial Conferences on the protection of forests in Europe (Strasbourg, Helsinki, Lisbon) and of the UN Intergovernmental Forum on Forests.
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    4.9. Enlargement

  3. In the enlargement process a good deal of attention should be paid to environmental aspects so as to reduce possible negative impacts on the environment of accession. It is very important to ensure continuous positive development in the agricultural environment of the applicant countries.
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    4.10. WTO

  5. It is important to stress that an appropriate balance has to be struck in the outcome of the next WTO negotiation round between trade and non-trade issues (e.g. environmental protection, food safety and quality, animal welfare), most of which result from the multifunctional role of agriculture or are intended to answer the legitimate concerns of the rural world and of consumers.
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    5. PRINCIPLES

  7. The general orientation is that farmers should observe the reference level of good agricultural practices as a part of the support regimes, but that additional environmental services beyond the reference level and respecting environmental legislation should be adequately compensated by society for example through agri-environment measures.
  8. The subsidiarity principle should be respected in the development of measures and regulations because it enables the diversity of European agriculture to be taken into account. The decision making and implementing competence for agri-environmental measures should primarily lie at national or regional level.
  9. The integration of environmental concerns into agricultural policy must be compatible with the Polluter Pays Principle. This principle implies that farmers bear compliance costs up to a reference level of good agricultural practices in area concerned. In general, beyond this level it is appropriate to pay farmers for environmental services they have provided through their own private resources or factors of production. However in areas with serious environmental problems, temporary government intervention, consistent with the Treaty, might be needed to improve sustainability up to the reference level.
  10. Sustainable economic behaviour also depends on a certain level of policy reliability and predictability, which should, avoid unnecessary uncertainties for investment returns in the long term.
  11. The appropriate application of the precautionary principle helps to avoid irreversible damages.
  12. It is necessary to deepen and develop further the integrated rural policy by taking into account the social and economic dimension, encouraging co-operation and dialogue between actors (environmental authorities, non-governmental organisations, farmers' organisations and public actors) in the pursuit of sustainability and through national measures. The rural development policy - as the second pillar of the CAP - seeks to establish a coherent and sustainable framework for the future of rural areas aiming at restoring and enhancing competitiveness and therefore contributing to the maintenance of employment.

6. ENVIRONMENTAL MEASURES IN THE 1999 CAP REFORM (AGENDA 2000)

  1. One of the priorities of the European Commission when it drew up the proposals for the CAP reform was to ensure that European agriculture would become more environmentally sensitive.
  2. The political and financial guidelines proposed by the Commission in Agenda 2000 were approved by the Heads of State in the Berlin European Council meeting in March 1999. Agenda 2000 agreement now enables the Union to face the challenges of the forthcoming period and to prepare it for future enlargement with success.
  3. Integration of environmental aspects into the CAP is not an entirely new action. The 1992 CAP reform included specific measures to encourage less intensive production as well as providing the possibility in the beef and sheep sectors for applying appropriate environmental protection measures. The reform was accompanied by the agri-environmental and afforestation measures, both of which have a specific environmental focus. Agenda 2000 CAP reform deepens and extends the 1992 reform through further shifts from price support to direct payments. It also develops a coherent rural policy to accompany this process
  4. Based on the model of European agriculture the content of the CAP reform aims to ensure that European agriculture is multifunctional and sustainable throughout Europe, including regions with specific problems, and achieves competitiveness on a worldwide scale. Agenda 2000 CAP reform provides many means to achieve agriculture's environmental objectives.
  5. The CAP reform constitutes essential elements of the European Union's position for the forthcoming multilateral trade negotiations within the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It is also a clear signal to the EU's trading partners that the EU is committed to the model of European agriculture.
  6. The CAP remains a common Community policy whilst there is considerable movement towards greater subsidiarity in the implementation of a number of policy measures by national or regional legislation.
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  8. Agenda 2000 CAP reform comprises the reform of beef, milk, arable crops and wine common market organisations (CMO) as well as the reform of the rural development policy and the financing of the CAP. A new regulation on common rules for direct support schemes under the CAP (horizontal rules) is also an important part of the reform.
  9. Agenda 2000 CAP reform constitutes the basis for Community policy towards the protection of the farmed environment. The reform contains environmental objectives and provides measures to achieve them. However, the CAP cannot solve all the environmental problems related to agriculture. There is a necessity for additional environmental policies, which complement the integration of environmental requirements into the CAP. Such policies are normally applied through general environmental legislation and refer in some cases to international environmental conventions.
  10. The main part of the Agenda 2000 measures will be implemented during the year 2000, which also sets the timetable for national measures and programmes.

 

6.1. The Common rules regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1259/1999)

56. The common rules regulation introduces environmental protection requirements in relation to support payments under the common market organisation. Member States shall take the environmental measures they consider to be appropriate in view of the situation of the agricultural land used or the production concerned and which reflect the potential environmental effects (Article (3)). These measures may include:

Member States shall decide on the penalties that are appropriate and proportionate to the seriousness of the ecological consequences of not observing the environmental requirements. They may provide for a reduction or, where appropriate, a cancellation of the benefits accruing from the support schemes concerned if such environmental requirements are not

respected. The detained support can be transferred to the measures of early retirement, less-favoured areas and areas with environmental restrictions, agri-environment and afforestation of the rural development programmes.

The adjustment of supports by modulation as set out by the common rules regulation provides Member States the possibility of reallocating them towards rural development programmes.

 

6.2. Rural development (Council Regulation (EC) No 1257/1999)

57. Rural development policy accompanies and completes the other instruments of the common agricultural policy and contributes to the achievement of the objectives laid down for the CAP in Article 33(1) of the Treaty.

58. The reform establishes a clear rural development pillar of the CAP with respect of the environment at its core and important environmentally beneficial components within the programmes at Member State or regional level. These environment elements include measures for training as well as for agri-environment, less-favoured areas and forestry.

  1. The new policy acknowledges the rural development as an integral part of the CAP and as a key element of the multifunctional character of the European agriculture. On the one hand, it recognises that farming plays a number of roles including the preservation of the rural heritage. On the other hand, it recognises that the creation of alternative sources of income must be an integral part of rural development policy.
  2. The preparation of development plans at national and local level support policy integration. These plans provide a useful platform for co-operation between relevant authorities and local communities, as well as for the assessment of expected economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts.
  3. Rural development measures are applied subject to the condition that minimum standards regarding the environment, hygiene and animal welfare are observed or attained as a result of the action. For activities going beyond the application of the base standards, agri-environmental measures are normally foreseen.
  4. A number of measures from the rural development regulation can be targeted to promote organic farming, biodiversity, landscape, water systems and combating climate change (e.g. investment, training, agri-environmental measures, processing and marketing).

 

a) Agri-environmental measures

  1. Agri-environmental measures form a compulsory part of all rural development programmes that are applied in the Member States (Article 43(2)). In the coming years a prominent role should be given to agri-environmental measures to support the sustainable development of rural areas and to respond to society's increasing demand for environmental services.
  2. Agri-environmental measures encourages farmers to serve society as a whole by introducing, continuing, or improving farming practices compatible with the increasing need to protect and enhance the environment, biodiversity, natural resources, soil and genetic diversity and to maintain the landscape and the countryside.
  3. Agri-environmental measures offer payments to farmers who, on a voluntary and contractual basis, provide environmental services to protect the environment and maintain the countryside. Payments are only made for measures that go beyond the application of good agricultural practice (Article 23(2)), which implies that the farmer already respects minimum environmental requirements.
  4. It is important to promote the appropriate application of targeted agri-environmental measures throughout the territories of the Member States. The area of agricultural land under agri-environmental contracts under the EU regulation as well as the environmental benefits should increase in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

b) Compensatory allowances in less-favoured areas (LFA) and areas with environmental restrictions

67. The main objectives of compensatory allowances for the less-favoured areas remain mainly unchanged in the reform: to ensure continued agricultural land use and thereby contribute to the maintenance of a viable rural community, to maintain countryside and to maintain and promote sustainable farming systems which in particularly take account of environmental protection requirements (Article 13 (a)). Compensatory payments may be paid in areas with environmental restrictions to ensure environmental requirements and safeguard farming in these areas (Article 13 (b)). All payments of compensatory allowances are made on an area basis thus avoiding any tendency to over-stock resulting from headage payments (Article 14(2)).

 

c) Sustainable management and development of forests

68. After the reform, support for forest will contribute to the maintenance and development of the economic, ecological, social and cultural functions of forests in rural areas.

69. The measures in the forest sector include: forest protection measures, particularly regarding forest fires (Articles 29 and 32), afforestation adapted to local conditions, compatible with the environment (Articles 30 and 31), investment in forests aimed at significantly improving their economic, ecological and social value (Article 30), preserving and improving the ecological value of woodlands, restoring damaged forests and ensuring the protective function of forests, particularly of those whose protective and ecological functions cannot be solely assured by income from silviculture (Article 32).

70. Afforestation of farmland encourages forms of countryside management that are more compatible with the environment, combating the greenhouse effect and absorbing carbon dioxide.

 

 

 

d) Other

  1. Investments (Article 5)
  2. Concerning aid for investments, some of the objectives that the investment will pursue relate to the preservation and improvement of the natural environment, hygiene conditions and animal welfare standards.

  3. Young farmers (Article 8(1))
  4. Compliance with regulation concerning environmental, hygiene and animal welfare aspects are also mentioned in the conditions of the setting-up aid for young farmers.

  5. Training (Article 9)
  6. Training will prepare farmers for qualitative reorientation of production, the application of production practices compatible with the maintenance and enhancement of the landscape, the protection of the environment, hygiene standards and animal welfare, and the acquisition of the skills needed to enable them to manage an economically viable farm (Article 9).

  7. Improving processing and marketing (Article 26(1))
  8. Environmental, hygiene and animal welfare requirements are included in the conditions of the aid scheme for improving the processing and marketing of agricultural products.

  9. Promoting the adaptation and development of rural areas (Article 33 Regulation 1257/99)
  10. According to article 33 support shall be granted for example to land improvement, to renovation and development of villages and protection and conservation of the rural heritage, to agricultural water resources management and to protection of the environment in connection with agriculture, forestry and landscape conservation as well as to the improvement of animal welfare.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    6.3. Common market organisations (CMOs)

  11. The previous 1992 reform of the CMOs took environmental aspects of agriculture into account to some extent. The pressure of agricultural activities on the environment was likely to diminish due to the reduction in the prices of some major products. It was expected particularly to lead to less intensive use of pesticides and fertilisers in the arable crop sector and a reduction in emissions (methane, ammonia, nitrates) from animal production.
  12. The market organisation regimes comprise strengthened extensification measures for beef, compulsory set-aside in the cereal sector and some new environmental possibilities in the national envelopes for the beef and milk sectors.

 

a) Arable crop production (Council Regulation (EC) No 1251/1999)

  1. In the arable sector, Member States have to take the necessary measures to bring the provisions of relevant environmental conditions to the attention of farmers (Article 8 (3)).
  2. Concerning set-aside, compulsory set-aside is retained until 2006/2007 at a basic rate of 10 per cent from 2000/2001 (Article 6(1)). Voluntary set-aside is maintained, but the scheme will be improved to take into account environmental considerations in particular. Member States will allow farmers to set-aside voluntarily up to at least 10 per cent of the area down to arable crops (Article 6(5)).
  3. Set-aside may be beneficial for the environment. However, if land is left fallow it may have negative consequences if it is not correctly managed. Therefore, where set-aside is allowed, Member States will apply environmental measures that correspond to the specific situation of the land set aside. (Article 6(2)).

 

 

 

 

 

b) Beef and veal production (Council Regulation (EC) No 1254/1999)

  1. In the beef sector, the total number of animals qualifying for the special premium and the suckler cow premium will continue to be limited to two livestock units (LU) per hectare of forage area and per calendar year (Article 12(1)).
  2. To strengthen incentives to extensify production with a view to improving their effectiveness in relation to environmental objectives, it is possible to grant an additional amount to producers who comply with severe and genuine stocking density requirements. The amount of the extensification premium varies and it depends on the stocking density rate of the farm (Article 13). Stocking density rate is calculated on the basis of the total number of adult bovine animals, sheep and goats (Article 12(2)). One of the aims of this measure is to reduce emissions from bovine animal production. It provides both market and environmental benefits in addition to contributing to the improvement of beef production's image.
  3. In the beef regime, a certain amount of the overall funding is placed at the disposal of the Member States to support the sector through direct payments according to special needs (Articles 14 - 18). This funding can also be granted on an area basis, which would reduce the incentives on farmers to over-stock land. Under the beef regime, in some cases Member States have to establish a specific stocking rate which takes account of the environmental impact of the type of production concerned, the environmental sensitivity of the land used for rearing cattle and the measures that have been implemented with a view to stabilise or improve the environmental situation of this land (Article 15(3)).

 

c) Milk production (Council Regulation (EC) No 1255/1999)

  1. In the milk regime a substantial proportion of the overall funding is placed at the disposal of the Member States to support the sector through direct payments according to special needs. The granting rules are similar to the rules in the beef sector.
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    d) Wine production

  3. In the wine sector, a balance between production and ecology in the region concerned is to be taken into account in the administration of the abandonment premium. Management of the abandonment premium is left to Members States to administer. Member States may designate the areas in which the premium may be granted. Detailed rules for the application of the abandonment premium will be decided in the implementation regulation, which is in preparation at the moment. These rules may include among other things environmental considerations (Article 10).

 

 

7. MONITORING AND REVIEWING PROGRESS

  1. In order to guarantee sustainable development of agriculture, appropriate monitoring, reporting and evaluation obligations should be included. Various mechanisms exist to assess the environmental effects of agriculture and other sectors. These include appraisal, monitoring, evaluation and data collection. In monitoring work the existing information systems, when available, should be used and further developed. The Community's Fifth Environmental Programme emphasises regular reporting and the generation of comparable data.
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    Indicators

  3. The use of indicators constitutes one of the means to measure the impact of concerned policies on economic, social and environmental functions of agriculture. Indicators such as those Agri Environmental Indicators (AEIs) currently developed in the framework of the OECD are quantified information that only render some relations between agriculture and environment. As far as possible indicators should be derived from existing collections of data and take account regional differences. It is important to broaden the domain of indicators to include multifunctionality of agriculture and sustainable development.
  4. After the Cardiff meeting in June 1998, the European Council asked for regular reporting on progress in the implementation of environmental integration strategies, based on indicators. On the request of the Council, the Commission started to develop environmental indicators. Also development of the agri-environmental indicators is on its way. Development of agri-environmental and other indicators should make full use of the experience of international organisations, such as the OECD, and build on activities in Member States.
  5. Criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management have been developed at the European scale. Development of criteria and indicators for sustainable agriculture could benefit from this process.
  6. Regular reports and comparable data should be generated on agricultural driving forces including different types of agricultural practices, production systems as well as levels of fertiliser and pesticide use etc. Indicators must be developed to cover both positive and negative effects of agriculture. A key requirement for indicators to be meaningful is a sufficient regional differentiation in their formulation. This is necessary to respond to the regional diversity of environmental conditions (soil type, climate, hydrogeological situation, biodiversity, length of the growing season) and the site-specific effects of different types of agricultural production systems and structures (livestock density, crop type, yield level, crop rotation etc.).

 

 

8. CONCLUSIONS

  1. The Council agrees that