Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Joseph A. McMahon and Michael N. Cardwell
Chapter 6: Twisted together: European agriculture, environment and the Common Agricultural Policy
The environmental dimension of agriculture in Europe was scarcely apparent in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and its accompanying policies until the early 1980s. Subsequently, this theme has made a significant imprint on agricultural policy, initially at the margins but more recently in the rationale and some of the primary mechanisms of the CAP, most prominently in the Ciolo_ reform of 2013. At one level, this is a reflection of farming’s progressively greater impact on the natural world and its many faceted role within a burgeoning environmental agenda. The influence of changing farming practice on water quality, biodiversity and landscape values, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, soil quality and functions and many other environmental parameters over large areas of Europe has become both more clearly established and more widely recognized. At the same time, the underlying tensions between the roles of farmers as ‘guardians of the countryside’ and as primary agents of environmental degradation has been brought into sharper focus by a combination of both technical and structural changes in European agriculture and a growth in environmental aspirations. These aspirations have been expressed in the form of more demanding environmental requirements in public policy and law as well as a broader dialogue in wider society.
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