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Introduced in 2003, this mechanism ties EU support for farmers to compliance with standards of environmental care and public/animal/plant health and animal welfare.

It covers direct payments and certain rural development and wine sector payments.

How does cross-compliance work?

It penalises farmers who infringe EU law on environmental, public and animal health, animal welfare or land management – by reducing the EU support they receive.

The size of the reduction depends on the severity of the infringement.


Exactly which EU rules do farmers have to comply with?

Cross-compliance mainly covers directives and regulations – "statutory management requirements" – that have existed for years and apply to all farmers (even those not receiving the type of EU support covered by cross compliance).

To this has been added – specifically for farmers receiving CAP payments – a set of rules on good agricultural and environmental condition, designed to:

  • prevent soil erosion
  • maintain soil organic matter and soil structure
  • ensure a minimum level of maintenance
  • avoid the deterioration of habitats
  • protect and manage water

In addition it is required that the ratio of permanent pastures at national level is maintained within certain limits.


Which payments might be reduced?

  • Direct payments (decoupled or coupled)
  • most rural development payments under Axis 2 (8 measures, including agri-environmental payments and payments in less-favoured areas)
  • 3 payments in the wine sector (including grubbing up and restructuring).


Why is cross-compliance important?

The rules it seeks to enforce are important for society – for instance nitrate limits in fertilisation, protecting Natura 2000 areas, food safety, animal welfare and traceability of food from animals.

Cross-compliance helps make European farming more sustainable and beneficial for society at large.


What is the Farm Advisory System?

A system that helps farmers better understand and meet the EU rules covered by cross-compliance.

Every EU country is required to set up such a system, to offer their farmers advice, applying certain priority criteria if needed.

EU rural development policy also helps farmers make use of advisory services and helps national authorities set them up where needed.

>> More on the Farm Advisory System



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