|Main authors:||Froukje Maria Platjouw, Harriet Moore, Susanne Wuijts, Sandra Boekhold, Susanne Klages, Isobel Wright, Morten Graversgaard and Gerard Velthof|
|FAIRWAYiS Editor:||Jane Brandt|
|Source document:||»Platjouw F. M. et al. (2021) Coherence in EU law and policy for the protection of drinking water resources. FAIRWAY Project Deliverable 6.1R 200 pp|
Here we discuss the legal requirements imposed by the Rural Development Regulation (CAP Pillar II) on states and/or the farming industry with a focus on ecological, monitoring and reporting, public participation (including farmer organisatons) and coordination requirements. The ecological requirements are subjected to a (vertical) coherence assessment of their contribution to FAIRWAY's objectives of protecting drinking water resources against pollution by nitrates and pesticides from agricultural practices.
Details of the analyses are contained in the Appendices of the full report:
|1. Overview of the Rural Development Regulation|
|2. Contribution of the Rural Development Regulation's requirements to achieving FAIRWAY's objectives|
Pillar II of CAP (Rural Development) promotes activities that aim at fostering the competitiveness of agriculture; ensure the sustainable management of natural resources, and climate change; and achieve a balanced territorial development of rural economies and communities including the creation and maintenance of employment.
In addition to these overall purposes, the RDR is drawn up with reference to six more specific priorities, which are further divided into more detailed focus areas: (1) knowledge transfer & innovation in agriculture, forestry & rural areas, (2) farm viability/competitiveness, sustainable management of forests, (3) food chain organisation, animal welfare, risk management in agriculture, (4) ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry, (5) resource efficiency, low-carbon / climate-resilient economy, and (6) social inclusion, poverty reduction, economic development.
A given Rural Development Programme (RDP) links the priorities of rural development policy to the situation on its territory via a SWOT analysis. The RDP then sets out a selection of measures drawn from the Rural Development Regulation to address the priorities in the appropriate way. A measure is essentially a set of one type of activity, project, or investment which may be funded within a RDP to achieve the priorities of rural development policy.
The RDR could be relevant for the protection of water resources, through its focus areas and the priorities that can be set. Priorities may include a focus on improving water management, by addressing the use of fertilizers and pesticides. In general, the member state or the region sets various targets for addressing the focus areas and priorities. The nature of the target varies according to the focus area. For example, for the focus area ‘Increasing efficiency in water use by agriculture’, the standard target indicator is the percentage of the irrigation area in the programme 58 area which is expected to switch to more efficient irrigation equipment as a result of rural development support.
2. Contribution of the Rural Development Regulation's requirements to achieving FAIRWAY's objectives
Table 2.10 Requirements and objectives of the RDR
|Label||Requirements and objectives of the Rural Development Regulation|
|Fostering competitiveness of agriculture||Fostering the competitiveness of agriculture; ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources, and climate action; achieving a balanced territorial development of rural economies and communities including the creation and maintenance of employment (art. 4)|
|Implement measures||MS shall implement necessary measures to: foster knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, along with cooperation with other industries and life-long learning|
|Enhance farm viability||Enhance farm viability (economic performance) and competitiveness of agriculture and promote innovative farm technologies (adequately skilled farmers)|
|Food chain organization||Promote food chain organisation, including processing and marketing of agricultural products, animal welfare (introducing quality schemes) and risk management in agriculture|
|Restore agricultural ecosystems||Restore, preserve and enhance ecosystems related to agriculture (preserving biodiversity, Natura 2000, improve water management, including fertiliser and pesticide management; prevent soil erosion and improve soil management)|
|Promote efficiency||Promote resource efficiency (water, energy) and support the shift towards a low carbon and climate resilient agriculture sector (renewable resources, reducing emissions)|
|Introduce rural development programmes||MS shall bring into force national and/or regional programmes concerning 6 main priorities for rural development (art. 6)|
Overall, the average score across all respondents and all requirements of the interaction between the RDR and FAIRWAY objective suggests that respondents believe the requirements enable (M = 0.8) the protection of drinking water resources against pesticides and nitrates from agricultural practices. Figure 2.10 demonstrates that respondents perceive the requirement to restore, preserve and enhance ecosystems related to agriculture to be most contributive to the FAIRWAY objective (‘Restore agricultural ecosystems’). 60% of the respondents scored this requirement as reinforcing (+2) to the protection of drinking water resources. 20% scored this requirement as being indivisible (+3), and 20% of the respondents scored the requirement as +1 (enabling). The scores showed little variability.
Also the requirement to promote resource efficiency is perceived to enable (+1) the protection of drinking water resources by 60% of the respondents (‘Promote resource efficiency’). Of the remaining respondents, 10% scored the requirement as indivisible (+3), 10% as reinforcing (+2), and 20% as neutral (0).
The other requirements of the CAP are overall considered to contribute positively to the FAIRWAY objective, however respondent scores showed high variability. To illustrate, the requirements related to fostering the competitiveness of agriculture are scored as indivisible (+3) by 10%, reinforcing (+2) by 20%, +1 by 30%, 0 by 10%, and -1 by 30% of the respondents.
Similarly, the requirement related to implement measures is also scored positively, yet with a high degree of variability amongst respondent scores. 40% of the respondents perceived this requirement to enable (+1) the FAIRWAY objective, while the other respondents scored this requirement as (+2) reinforcing (20%), (0) neutral (20%), and (-1) constraining (20%).
The requirement to enhance farm viability is considered to be constraining (-1) to the FAIRWAY objective by 40% of the respondents. A further 20% of the respondents perceived this requirement as neutral (0), 20% as enabling (+1), and 20% as reinforcing (+2), suggesting a high degree of variability among the respondent scores.
Responses to open-ended survey items give some explanation about the overall positive scores, and high variability between scores for different provisions. In general, the requirements are considered to be positive because the RDR provides a framework for a development into clean and sustainable agricultural production today and in the future. Respondents argue that the RDR promotes both economically sustainable agriculture and sustainable resource management. It is suggested that the market can drive certain changes which are beneficial for the protection of drinking water resources. For example, the market is an important driver for improving good practices related to the use of pesticides.Products with a high level of pesticides or other harmful substances, will have more difficulty entering the market and being accepted by users. Incapacity to sell certain products has triggered innovation, rethinking and improvements in techniques and approaches to replace these products by more sustainable and less harmful ones. The focus on production and competitiveness could thus have positive side-effects to improved management of fertilizers and pesticides.
However, respondents also emphasized that, in some areas the objectives of sustainable agriculture are unlikely to be achieved, and that pressure to maintain and/or increase the competitiveness of agriculture will inevitably result in an increase in pressures on water resources. One respondent also highlighted this risk by arguing that measures designed to increase competitiveness could clearly raise concerns, particularly when increased competitiveness could be achieved through less stringent environmental protection.
Overall, the RDR is considered to have a positive enabling effect on the protection of drinking water resources since it could lead to a reduction in nitrates and pesticides use. However, it is emphasized that this effect is strongly dependent on how the requirements are implemented. Whether the requirement to enhance farm viability in practice will lead to better protection of drinking water resources, depends very much on what type of technology is used. Intensification might increase impacts on the environment, however some technology can lead to sustainable intensification. Moreover, the requirement related to food chain organisations could contribute positively to decreasing the impact of agriculture on the environment, but often concentrates more on biodiversity or animal welfare which is more tangible to the end consumer.
Note: For full references to papers quoted in this article see