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Parliamentary questions
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30 March 2020
 E-000034/2020
Answer given by Mr Sinkevičius
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-000034/2020

1. Under the Nitrates Directive(1), Member States must include in their national Action Programmes the obligation for farmers to have sufficient storage capacity for livestock manure. The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) may support investments to comply with such obligation within 12 months from the date it became mandatory and 24 months for young farmers(2). Investments improving slurry management could also be supported.

2. The Commission has set out its strategy to tackle climate and environmental-related challenges in the European Green Deal(3). Under the Commission’s proposals on the next Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Member States’ Strategic Plans should reward farmers for improved environmental and climate performance, including improved nutrient management to improve water quality and reduce emissions. The ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy will also address reducing pollution from excess nutrients. The Commission will work with the Member States and stakeholders to ensure that from the outset the CAP Strategic Plans fully reflect the ambition of the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy.  

3. The Fitness-Check of the EU Freshwater Policy(4) confirmed that the Nitrates Directive remains key for the protection of European waters. While water pollution caused by agricultural nitrates has decreased in the EU in the last two decades, worrying hotspots remain and need reinforced action by Member States(5).

The directive leaves to national authorities to define and implement the most appropriate measures to achieve its water quality objectives, including setting up of the necessary monitoring networks to identify polluted waters, designate Nitrate Vulnerable Zones and assess the effectiveness of Action Programmes. Member States report the results of their monitoring stations every four years under common reporting guidelines. The Commission continues to work towards streamlining environmental reporting in the EU(6).

(1)Council Directive 91/676/EEC of 12 December 1991 concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources, OJ L 375, 31.12.19.
(2)Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013, Article 17(5) and 17(6).
(3)https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/communication-european-green-deal_en
(4)https://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/blueprint/fitness_en.htm
(5)European Commission Report COM(2018) 257.
(6)European Commission Report COM(2017) 312 final.
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