Research Handbook on EU Agriculture Law
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Research Handbook on EU Agriculture Law

Edited by Joseph A. McMahon and Michael N. Cardwell

Following the conclusion of the latest round of reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 2013, the Research Handbook on EU Agriculture Law provides an up-to-date discussion of these reforms and the changing landscape in which the CAP now operates.
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Chapter 11: Integrated water resources management and the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy

William Howarth


The aim of this chapter is to offer critical reflections upon legal aspects of water resources management, the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union (EU). In doing this, the aim is to focus upon the degree to which appropriate and effective objectives for water resources management are incorporated into the WFD and the CAP and, to the extent that they are not, to offer comment on how this might be addressed. It is not the purpose of the chapter to provide a general exposition of the establishment of the CAP or to provide an account of previous moves towards the ‘greening’ of the Policy. Hence, a point of departure is to note the standard environmental criticism of the CAP: that it has encouraged and perhaps rewarded environmentally harmful agricultural land management. Activities that have been damaging to environmental quality, in causing pollution, and/or have resulted in harm to biodiversity, particularly in respect of those species of flora and fauna that should be abundant on farmland, have taken place as a consequence of CAP support. Accepting that environmental protection may not have been an element in the original purpose of the CAP, the adoption of the Single European Act 1986, including an Environment Chapter, and the need to integrate environmental protection into sectoral policies of the EU, including the CAP, have given rise to justified and increasing criticism of environmental aspects of the Policy.

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