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EU - Fact Sheet Common Agricultural Policy

Information on organic farming, conventional agriculture and policies in the EU.


Countries: European Union
Donors: European Commission, DG Environment, Netherlands Ministry of Environment
Partners: WECF Spain
Issues: Environment
Duration: 01/2006 - 12/2006

Rural Development policy in the enlarged EU

Rural areas and the CAP

Rural areas cover 90 % of the European Union territory and are home to approximately 50 % of its population.

Agriculture and forestry are the main land users and play a key role in the management of natural resources in rural areas and in determining the rural landscape.

The guiding principles for the contribution of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to the Lisbon Strategy were set by the European Council in Göteborg in 2001 and confirmed in the Lisbon Strategy Conclusions in Thessaloniki in June 2003: "Strong economic performance must go hand in hand with the sustainable use of natural resources". These principles have shaped recent CAP reforms.

Download the WECF Briefing: Rural Development policy in the enlarged EU

Natura 2000 network: a tool to protect biodiversity in the EU

Nature and biodiversity are included as a top priority on the Sixth Environmental Action Plan (EAP), ‘Environment 2010: Our Future, Our Choice’, which sets out the EU's environmental policy agenda until 2012.

The EU Sustainable Development Strategy establishes as a priority halting the loss of biodiversity in the EU by 2010.

At the international level: during the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, world leaders committed themselves to significantly reducing global biodiversity loss by 2010.

The 1992 Habitats Directive aims to protect wildlife species and their habitats. Each Member State is required to identify sites of European importance and to put in place a special management plan to protect them, combining long-term preservation with economic and social activities, as part of a sustainable development strategy. These sites, together with those of the Birds Directive, make up the Natura 2000 network – the cornerstone of EU nature protection policy. In the EU-15 the Natura 2000 network was comprising more than 18 000 sites, covering over 17% of EU-15 territory, and was due to be completed in 2004.

With the enlargement of the EU to include the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Cyprus and Malta  new opportunities and challenges for the  EU’s nature and biodiversity efforts appear. The new Member States will significantly increase the land area of the EU, covering many unspoiled landscapes, forests, parks and wetlands and so increasing the Community’s biodiversity. Ensuring the protection of its rich biodiversity will require both funds and policies to protect and maintain nature from risks such as land fragmentation or loos of habitats as results of new infrastructure and urban development.

Download the full WECF Briefing:The future of the Natura 2000 network - January 2006

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