The European Union and Environmental Sustainability

explanatory Essay
2597 words
2597 words

“Unquestionably the EU now exerts the most important and effective influence on both British and Irish environmental policy and politics (McGowan, 1999: 175).” The European Union has developed itself into one of the world leaders in relation to environmental standards and its ability to apply legislation to its member states. Both, at present and in the past, challenges and opportunities have been encountered, and will continue to be encountered into the future. Indeed, Europe now directly impacts on food producers and manufacturers through the implementation of various policies such as the Nitrates Directive and issues surrounding Climate Change - both of which are the dealt with in this paper respectively. Through these and other policies it has carved itself a “green” image focused on safeguarding the health and well-being of its population. These will now act as the basis behind further initiatives into the future. The most significant of these in this area is the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) and it is it that is the focal point of the academic writing I have undertaken. From it I will discuss, most notably, how promising directives, such as the nitrates directive, with significantly beneficial core objectives, may be limiting our food producers in how it has been implemented. With the CAP being such a major part of the EU budget, although it has decreased sharply over the past 25 years, from “73% in 1985 to 41% in 2012” (European Commission, 2013), it still represents a major amount of total EU expenditure. This drop in budget, however, has led to other challenges for farmers, namely the implementation of milk quota in 1983. However, with quotas set to be abolished from 2015 onwards, a window of opportunity now graces the ...

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...environmentnexus%20papers/Greening%20CAP%20Payments_A%20Missed%20Opportunity-IIEA-environex_project-2013.pdf. Last accessed May 2014.
Mc Gowan, L. (1999), ‘Environmental Policy’ in N. Collins (ed.), Political Issues in Ireland Today, 2nd edition, Manchester: Manchester University Press
Pachauri, R.K., Reisinger, A. (2007). IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007. Available: Last accessed May 2014.
SOILSERVICE. (2013). Recognising the Importance of Soil Biodiversity. Available: Last accessed 1st Apr 2014.
The Irish Farmers Association. (2013). Review of Ireland's Nitrates Action Programme. Available: Last accessed 31 Mar 2014.

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that the eu exerts the most important and effective influence on both british and irish environmental policy and politics.
  • Opines that eu non-market policies have impacted both positively and negatively on the food producers and manufacturers operating in the eu.
  • Explains that the european parliament set up soilservice to investigate and place economic values on the effect diminishing soil conditions are having on production.
  • Explains that the eu agrees its international commitments on climate change on behalf of its member states. agriculture and forestry are two sectors which work directly with nature and the environment.
  • Opines that the 2013 cap reform was a missed opportunity. it is the only realistic opportunity for additional beneficial reform. a pillar iii could deal directly with issues associated with carbon footprint.
  • Lists important actors who may represent, support or hold a key influence on making decisions, turning the outlined challenges of soil nutrient levels and climate change into opportunities.
  • Explains that the eu funded program holds fundamental research in the dispute that insufficient p fertiliser application is having an unfavourable effect on the productivity of european agriculture. it provides evidence to suggest more action is required to improve and protect the soil nutrient levels of member states.
  • Explains that the irish government funded agriculture advisory & research organisation set the suggested p value that has been undercut by regulations that have been placed on farmers since 2005, resulting in soil deficiencies.
  • Opines that the irish farmers' representative group would welcome the backing of the efma in campaigning for a change in regulations to reach an improved level of sustainability.
  • Explains that declan ciolos, the european commissioner for agriculture & rural development, is the leader of the 2013 cap reform, which is expected to become known as the "ciolas reform".
  • Describes paolo de castro as the third and final key agriculture policy maker who had a direct impact on the 2013 cap reform.
  • Explains that simon coveney, the irish minister for agriculture, is a well-known backer of the transition towards sustainable agriculture.
  • Explains mairead mcguinness' background largely dominated by environmental and agricultural interests. she is one of seven irish representatives in parliament, allowing for her access to vote on the recent cap reform.
  • Opines that the nitrates directive, introduced in 2005, places limits on the amount of organic and chemical fertiliser permitted to be applied to land.
  • Opines that the eu has developed itself into one of the world leaders in terms of environmental standards and its ability to apply legislation to its member states.
  • Explains boland, t., cahill, n. and coveney, s. the future of agriculture sector is smart and green.
  • Explains that greening cap payments - a missed opportunity? is available at
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