This paper reports results from the European project WADI which evaluates the sustainability of the European irrigation sector under different policy scenarios. Results presented are based on the generation of farm level water demand curves through multicriteria mathematical programming models. The results are compared across regions and matched against a review of water pricing policies that were in place in various European Union member states and accession countries prior to the entering into force of the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The results emphasise the variability of behaviour of irrigated systems and the need for a more clear understanding of policy objectives before implementing any policy instrument. Once the objectives are clarified, economic models can contribute to understanding the appropriateness of different management strategies and to the effectiveness of different policy instruments.

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