Reconciling agricultural practices and environmental obligations


The EC just published a new guidance under the COM 2018 Action Plan on Environmental Compliance Assurance, namely the Vade Mecum on environmental compliance assurance in rural areas.

The purpose of the Vade Mecum is to see out good practised on how national authorities should interact with farmers and land managers in order to ensure compliance with DG ENV legislation, particularly on water and nature.

It explains approaches to preventing, detecting and responding to compliance failures, and shows how agricultural practices can be reconciled with environmental obligations. This Vade Mecum can highly contribute to delivering European Green Deal objectives, particularly the Biodiversity strategy, as it focuses on the mechanisms for overseeing delivery on the ground in Member States.

The Vade Mecum supports the role of public authorities in ensuring that farmers and other rural land-managers comply with their environmental obligations. This role involves public authorities taking combinations of three different kinds of action.

One kind focuses on monitoring compliance and identifying and understanding compliance failures. A second involves responding to compliance failures – through the application of sanctions, for instance. This is sometimes referred to as ‘enforcement’. The third kind involves authorities promoting compliance – in other words, helping land-managers to comply. The umbrella term for all three kinds of action is ‘environmental compliance assurance’.

The Vade Mecum was prepared in close collaboration with the Environmental Compliance and Governance Forum, in particular with the support of IMPEL (the European network of environmental inspectors) and NEPA (the EU network of the environmental agencies). DG ENV also prepared a summary guide with high visual content to provide an “easier read.” In order to reach the practitioners in the Member States, both the Vade Mecum and the summary document were translated into the different MS languages and published online.



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