Evaluation of the Common Agricultural Policy’s impact on biodiversity

The European Commission's Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development commissioned IEEP (through the Alliance Environment consortium) to undertake a formal evaluation of the CAP’s impact on habitats, landscapes and biodiversity.

The evaluation follows a strict approach set out in the Commission’s own better regulation guidelines for evaluation and fitness checks. Some 15 evaluation questions were assessed, requiring the use of desk-based evidence, information and (10) case studies from across the EU and Member States.

The key findings of the evaluation are:

  • The study could not draw conclusions about the CAP’s overall impact on biodiversity, due to a lack of suitable monitoring data, which it recommends is remedied for the forthcoming CAP.
  • The specific impact of CAP measures on habitats, landscapes and biodiversity is mixed. Member States have insufficiently protected semi-natural habitats and features, and not always made income support available on high biodiversity value land, particularly that which is reliant on continued extensive grazing. When well designed, targeted and implemented at sufficient scale, some CAP measures have provided biodiversity benefits, in particular the agri-environment-climate, and the Natura 2000 measures, as well as some elements of greening (notably the protection of Environmentally Sensitive Permanent Grassland, and support for fallow under EFA). Yet both the Ecological Focus Area (EFA) measure under greening, and the design and level of funding of agri-environment-climate schemes have not been sufficient to significantly mitigate the detrimental impacts of certain agricultural practices (e.g. intensive cropping).
  • In the future CAP, Member States should ensure their CAP strategies are more aligned with biodiversity priorities than at present. This will require use of the full range of relevant measures and targeting and tailoring them to identified needs and priorities, whilst ensuring semi-natural habitats and landscape features are not excluded from income support.

The evaluation is available on the European Commission's website.