"There is naturally quite a tense relationship between agriculture and environmental protection: whoever tills the land intervenes in the environment, whoever wants to protect the environment must impose certain rules on agriculture", Franz Fischler, European Commissioner for Agriculture, was heard to say at the beginning of this year. His comment underlines the close interdependence between the agricultural policy that emerged from the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and the Community environmental policy officially recognised in 1987 in the Single European Act. The EU Commission clearly wants to see these two strategies implemented hand in hand. To this end, in December 1998, the EU's fifteen Agriculture Ministers came out in favour of a strategy integrating the environment into the CAP. In its new report, Eurostat puts the emphasis on the geographical dimension to illustrate this integrationist strategy.Natura 2000: farming & nature coexisting.In the farming world, biological diversity is a guarantee of an indispensable genetic heritage. The Natura 2000 European network that sprang out of the 1979 Wild Birds Directive and the 1992 Habitats Directive, requires Member States to select and protect sites of natural importance (such as forests, sand dunes, marshes, riverbanks and lakes). It is the EU's main contribution to safeguarding the planet's biological diversity. The Eurostat report points out that, with a proposed coverage of almost 9% of the Community's land area at the beginning of 1999, the Natura 2000 network "has generated public interest, but has also been a source of much concern among farmers and foresters", since most of the natural habitats involved are in agricultural or wooded areas. The network scheme has been slow to get off the ground and has frequently come up against opposition from the rural world. "Contrary to a widely-held belief in rural areas, the idea behind the Natura 2000 network is not to set up full nature reserves or freeze all human activity on the proposed sites. This would be impossible and undesirable", says Eurostat. Once complete, the Commission expects the network could eventually cover 12% of the EU's territory. "Natura 2000 could therefore become a clear sign of the multifunctionality of agriculture in the third millennium", the report concludes.Agri-environmental measures.The 1992 reform of the CAP introduced support for agri-environmental measures at EU level with the triple objective of combining more...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT