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News|16 Jun, 2008

Only a complete rehaul of the European agricultural policy can save the Baltic Sea

WWF today calls on Prime Ministers around the Baltic Sea to act to combat eutrophication of the sea. A new report “No more EU-trophication” outlines how governments can save the Baltic Sea by reforming the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Governments need to change the way subsidies are given to farmers in order to save the Baltic Sea, the report concludes.

WWF today calls on Prime Ministers around the to act to combat eutrophication of the sea. A new report “No more EU-trophication” outlines how governments can save the by reforming the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Governments need to change the way subsidies are given to farmers in order to save the Baltic Sea, the report concludes.

Farming around the Baltic Sea today contributes around half of the nutrients that are causing eutrophication of the sea. The report describes how the current policy has favored intensification and specialization, resulting in fewer, larger farms with greater emphasis on monocultures and substantive use of pesticides and fertilizers. The use of nitrogen and phosphorus based fertilizers has increased enormously and resulted in an excess of nutrients that sooner or later reach the Baltic Sea. Intensive livestock production has increased the amount of manure and other waste that add to the problem.

“We cannot really blame the farmers for this situation”, says Mats Abrahamsson, Program Director of the WWF Baltic Ecoregion Program. “Farming is governed by policy and very few farmers can afford to invest in environmental measures when their competitors are not. Eutrophication is a problem caused by political decisions and can only be solved on the political level by a fundamental re-orientation of agricultural policies”.

In WWF’s vision, there would no longer be any direct income support for farmers. Instead, all expenditure would be devoted to achieving environmental and rural development outcomes. The budget would be based on actual environmental and social needs. Public money would only be used for public goods.

“The challenge now is to address the legacy of past mistakes and shape the CAP into a framework that can deliver both truly sustainable agriculture and a clean Baltic Sea, says Mats Abrahamsson. “Governments have a unique window of opportunity as Europe right now is revising its agricultural policy through two separate processes: a short term CAP “health check” and a longer term review of the whole EU budget”

The WWF report outlines a new Common Environmental and Rural Policy to gradually replace the CAP. A detailed action plan with concrete measures and timelines for the transition is given.

Read the full “No more EU-trophication” report.

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