Maximising environmental benefits through Ecological Focus Areas

On 12 October 2011 the European Commission published draft legislative proposals for the future of the CAP post 2013. They included three measures aimed at the ‘greening’ of direct payments in Pillar 1 in order to contribute towards environmental objectives for climate and the environment in Europe. One of these measures, the creation of Ecological Focus Areas, extending to seven per cent of the eligible area of arable and permanent crops, has been recognised as having the greatest potential to address a range of environmental concerns in the farmed countryside.

How much of this potential is realised in practice depends to a large degree on precisely how the proposals evolve, the final form they take, the scope for tailoring the approach to local circumstances and the way in which Member States use this discretion, as well as the response by farmers.

This new report, prepared at the request of the Land Use Policy Group (LUPG), has been prepared to identify some key issues while this detail is awaited. Based on the literature, past experience and a seminar in Brussels, it aims to identify the key parameters that need to be addressed in a new policy.

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