Aims of cross-compliance

Through cross-compliance, farmers are encouraged to comply with high EU standards for public, plant, and animal health and welfare. Cross-compliance plays a role in making European farming more sustainable.

Cross-compliance explained

In order to receive EU income support, farmers must respect a set of basic rules. The interplay between this respect for rules and the support provided to farmers is called cross-compliance.

Rules farmers are expected to comply with include:

  • statutory management requirements, these apply to all farmers whether or not they receive support under the common agricultural policy (CAP);
  • good agricultural and environmental conditions, these apply only to farmers receiving support under the CAP.

Farmers violating EU law relating to environmental, public and animal health, animal welfare or land management will have their EU support reduced and may face other penalties.

Statutory management requirements

All farmers, whether receiving CAP support or not, have to respect statutory management requirements (SMR).

The SMR include EU rules on public, animal and plant health; animal welfare; and the environment.

Public, animal and plant health

​​Animal welfare

Environment

Good agricultural and environmental conditions

In addition to the statutory management requirements, farmers receiving CAP support have to respect EU standards on good agricultural and environmental condition of land (GAEC).

These standards are designed to:

  • prevent soil erosion by defining minimum soil cover and minimum land management practices;
  • maintain soil organic matter and soil structure;
  • maintain permanent grassland;
  • protect biodiversity and ensure the retention of landscape features through, for example, a ban on cutting hedges and trees during the bird breeding and rearing season;
  • protect and manage water through the establishment of buffer strips along water courses, authorisation on water for irrigation and protection of ground water from pollution.

Penalties for non-compliance

Under the cross-compliance system, farmers not respecting EU rules can see the following support reduced.

  • Direct payments (decoupled or coupled).
  • Most rural development payments: area based payments including agri-environmental measures, areas with natural constraints, NATURA 2000 measures, afforestation measures, forest environmental payments, agroforestry, organic farming.
  • Wine sector payments: restructuring and conversion of vineyards and green harvesting.

Related information

Income support

Rural development

New CAP: 2023-27

In June 2021, following extensive negotiations between the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission, agreement was reached on reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP). The new CAP will begin on 1 January 2023.

Under the new CAP, changes will be made to the existing conditionality and greening systems that will reflect higher green ambitions and contribute to the targets of the European Green Deal. This includes the introduction of eco-schemes, which will provide stronger incentives for climate- and environment-friendly agricultural practices. Until 2023, current measures apply, in line with the provisions of the CAP transitional regulation.

Rules

Cross-compliance is governed by:

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