Eco-schemes: a key tool for sustainable agriculture in the EU

Eco-schemes: a key tool for sustainable agriculture in the EU

Today we would like to present a publication that is the result of the combination of two projects funded by the European Union: CONSOLE and EFFECT, with the participation of the partners of the NOVASOIL project.

Sustainable agriculture is an increasingly important issue around the world, and the European Union (EU) is no exception. The EU has implemented a number of policies and programmes to promote sustainable agriculture, and one of the most recent is the use of eco schemes.

Eco-schemes: a key tool for sustainable agriculture in the EU

Eco schemes have become a key tool for sustainable agriculture in the EU. These schemes are an important part of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which is the main funding instrument for agriculture in the EU. The eco schemes are a way of financing sustainable farming practices such as organic farming, crop rotation and grassland management.

As this publication points out, agri-environmental schemes should not be confused with agri-environmental climate schemes (AECS). While AECS focus on environmental and climate protection, eco schemes focus on promoting sustainable farming practices in general.


Eco-schemes are CAP instruments designed to promote sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices. They are designed to encourage farmers to take specific measures that go beyond the basic requirements of agricultural legislation.
Eco-schemes allow farmers to receive additional payments for measures that benefit the environment and climate, biodiversity and animal welfare. These measures can include crop rotation, reduced use of chemicals, the creation of wildlife corridors or the establishment of ecological focus areas.
For example. Imagine a farmer who owns a farm in an EU country. In order to participate in the eco-scheme and receive additional payments, the farmer can choose to carry out actions that promote biodiversity on his land.
One action could be to set aside part of his land to create a strip of native vegetation around the fields. This strip would provide habitat and shelter for pollinating insects, birds and other beneficial animals. It would also act as a natural barrier to prevent soil erosion and run-off of pollutants into nearby waterways. The farmer would receive an additional payment under the Eco-Scheme for maintaining and caring for this strip of native vegetation.

Eco-schemes: a key tool for sustainable agriculture in the EU

The EU has earmarked a quarter of the Pillar 1 CAP budget for environmental schemes. This means that EU farmers have access to a significant amount of funding to finance sustainable farming practices. Agri-environmental schemes also guide farmers to meet the EU’s sustainability objectives, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting biodiversity.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the implementation of AE schemes in fifteen EU Member States. The results of the study show that AE schemes are a promising tool for promoting sustainable agriculture in the EU, as the Member States included in the study are responding to the objectives of the EU Green Pact, with a particular focus on improving biodiversity and non-productive land management.

The study also found that the number of measures offered in each country varies from three to twenty-one. Some countries are considering supporting organic farming through eco schemes, while others are focusing on grassland management and crop rotation. The creative freedom offered by the new CAP implementation model has led to similar measures being programmed as eco schemes in some countries and as Pillar 2 measures in others.

In short, eco schemes are a key tool for promoting sustainable agriculture in the EU. With a quarter of the Pillar 1 CAP budget allocated to eco schemes, EU farmers have access to a significant amount of funding to finance sustainable farming practices. The results of the recent study show that eco schemes are a promising tool for promoting sustainable agriculture in the EU and that the fifteen Member States included in the study are responding to the objectives of the EU Green Deal.

You can download the article by clicking here.

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