Project details

Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): Cross Compliance and advancement of agri-environmental schemes

The integration of nature and environment issues constitutes a focal point within the frame-work of agricultural policy’s reorientation. On the one hand, Council Regulation (EC) 1782/2003 establishing common rules for direct support schemes and regulating the ‘first pil-lar’ of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) includes the so-called ‘Cross Compliance’ as a new instrument. On the other hand, the implementation of the ELER regulation (Council Regulation (EC) 1698/2005) leads to the reorganisation of agricultural structural policy as well as policy for rural areas, the so-called ‘second pillar’ of the CAP. Agri-environmental schemes designed at the level of the ‘Länder’ (German federal states) and optional for farmers are also based on this regulation. Therefore they are subject to reconceptualisation at Länder level, which involves, among other things, a range of legal issues.

The study’s main focus is on scientifically accompanying the reorganisation process of CAP instruments relevant to nature conservation (Cross Compliance standards, nature conservation contracts and agri-environmental schemes).

Differentiations need to be made regarding the situation within and outside the boundaries of protected areas. On the one hand, there are the European protected areas of the ‘Natura 2000’ network (nature reserves and other protected zones). On the other hand, there is a great share of areas without any status as protected zone in which agriculture is still obliged to follow general standards of ‘good agricultural practice’ and the common regulations regarding, among other things, fertilization as well as plant and animal protection (Fertilizer Ordinance (DüMV), Plant Protection Act (PflSchG), Federal Nature Conservation Act (BNatSchG) and Federal Soil Protection Act (BbodSchG)). Resulting from the introduction of the Cross Compliance regulation, these requirements have merely become subject to a new form of control mechanisms as well as, most of all, to sanctions. This is due to the dependence of the receipt of subsidies on the strict observance of production-related requirements (Cross Compliance controls) since the Council Regulation on direct support schemes has been in effect.

However, the interrelations between environmental/nature protection and agricultural land use do not only refer to issues that can be regulated by obligations and prohibitions. On the con-trary, it is a special characteristic of many natural areas’ agricultural cultivation that a re-introduction or maintenance of agriculture is necessary in support of nature conservation in-stead of refraining from cultivation or changing cultivation and production processes. For in-stance, pasturing can not be made obligatory for land owners. If this is necessary in order to preserve an ecosystem, however, an optional agreement between farmers and the agricultural or nature conservation authority concerned is essential.

Within the framework of the reconceptualisation of agri-environmental schemes, requirements of these programmes, in order to be authorised by the EU Commission, are expected to lie above the Cross Compliance standard to be observed by farmers in case of receiving direct payments already. Presently, the following issues are to be fixed yet:

  • design of contents,
  • legal implications,
  • financial resources and
  • acceptance of the programmes.

Consequently, effects on nature conservation can not be assessed yet, which gives central im-portance to critically observing political developments.

Project no.: 



Research | Consulting | Agricultural policy |


Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)

Executing Organization: 

Institut für Ländliche Strukturforschung e.V.


2005 - 2008

Contact person/s at IfLS: 

Jörg Schramek