The European Union has announced launch of an audit of the impact of the EU agricultural policy on the sustainable use of water. A 7 July Preview cites that about 25 percent of all freshwater abstraction in the EU is used on farmland and, in some locations, as much as up to 40 percent. About 10 percent of all farmland is equipped for irrigation.
The preview acknowledges the pressure of economic activity and climate change on the availability of freshwater. It also cites how the 2000 Water Framework Directive (WFD) introduced an ecosystem-based approach to water management, with the view to protect and improve the status of all freshwater bodies by the end of 2015, with a possible extension to 2027 to be considered.
The audit plan summarises the state of play with respect to WFD. A 2019 report assessed that over 85 % of the EU’s groundwater bodies had achieved good quantitative status but increased investment is essential to meet the WFD objectives. The WFD is fit-for-purpose, but problems lie in the way it is funded and implemented.
The new audit will focus on the extent to which the new common agricultural policy (CAP) promotes the principles of sustainable water use. It will also assess whether Commission and Member State action is required to apply and enforce those principles in agriculture that are both suitable and effective.