ICPDR publishes Position Paper on the Post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy and Water Management in the Danube River Basin

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Discussions have begun on what the EC’s post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will look like, specifically wishing to detail a framework for “future-proof” policy. With that in mind, ambitions regarding environmental and climate protection are due to be heightened responding to international commitments, EU environmental challenges, and above all, changing societal expectations. In response to the post-2020 CAP proposals, the ICPDR has published a Position Paper, outlining our positive response to the proposals, and suggesting a way forward for the Danube River Basin.

a brown cow standing on top of a grass covered field

Besides ensuring profitability of agriculture, competitiveness of farmers, vitality of rural areas, food security and public, animal and plant health, another chief concern of CAP is to boost efforts related to environmental protection, natural resources protection, climate and biodiversity protection, including managing detrimental effects on natural and public waters. The updated post-2020 CAP would introduce vital enhanced conditionality setting the baseline for more ambitious and sustainable agricultural commitments through the adoption of good farming practices and standards by farmers. Such conditions would be mandatory for Member States to implement. This would  bring potentially positive impacts on water quality, all falling in line with the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive. Member States are also required by the post-2020 CAP to prepare a ‘CAP Strategic Plan’, designing funding, interventions, and advisory systems better suited to their national needs and the needs of local farmers. Perhaps most importantly though, the proposal would link certain part of farmers’ income support to the application of said eco-friendly practices and schemes, and would strengthen environmental and climate change commitments with at least 30% of national allocations for rural development having to be dedicated to environmental measures as a matter of standard.

But how closely does this affect the waters of the Danube River Basin? For one thing, the nutrient losses from agricultural areas could potentially increase and extend adverse effects on the Danube and linked waters of its tributaries if agriculture is not managed sustainably. With climate change rapidly set to increase, the threat of droughts in the Danube Region, water scarcity in combination with inappropriate agricultural nutrient management could have disastrous consequences.

This Position Paper goes on to explain the ICPDR’s response to the proposal. Some of the key responses explain how the ICPDR:

  • Welcomes and supports the CAP proposal and its strengthened ambitions regarding environment and climate protection.
  • Is convinced of the importance of strong cooperation between the agriculture and water sectors.
  • Emphasizes the need for synergies between CAP interventions and the measures identified in the River Basin Management Plans in order to contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the WFD.
  • Supports the proposed CAP Strategic Plans as appropriate policy tools to implement financial instruments and targeted measures.
  • Emphasizes the need of developing more effective advisory services integrated into agricultural knowledge and innovation systems.
  • Supports compensating farmers for their environmental efforts going beyond mandatory requirements.
  • Stresses the importance of effective implementation of agricultural measures with EU involvement at every stage of the CAP’s strategic planning and implementation.

The ICPDR sees this as another vital step forward in harmonizing and aligning water and agricultural policies, and has launched a dialogue aiming at developing its own guidance document on sustainable agriculture for the Danube Region. This document “will offer Danube countries support for the preparation and implementation of the national agro-environmental policies, CAP Strategic Plans and relevant strategies of the River Basin Management Plans. It will provide a consistent policy framework with a set of recommended instruments and tools to facilitate national water and agricultural decision making and to identify common goals, set up tailor-made policies and implement joint actions and cost-effective measures.”

The full and unabridged document can be downloaded below. 

Source & Editorial: ICPDR