Abstract

Water taxation in European Union (EU) countries is adapted to local conditions and institutional trajectories and contains a variety of taxes and tariffs to finance water services and induce a higher use efficiency. After having clarified certain concepts, this work offers an overview of water taxes and tariffs charged for agricultural water use in several European Union member states, both in water-abundant areas and in water-scarce regions. Mediterranean countries, such as France, Portugal, Italy and Spain, have implemented different tax systems on agricultural water abstractions to recover the costs of the regulation, storage, and management of basin-level water services with various levels of cost recovery in accordance with the provision by the Water Framework Directive. France, Portugal, and Italy have implemented an abstraction tax applied to any water source (surface and groundwater) as an instrument to induce water saving and internalize environmental and resource costs in the irrigation sector. Despite these efforts, current taxation remains very low in the European context. On the other hand, Northern European countries (including the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark) have no fiscal instruments related to agricultural abstractions (neither for surface nor for groundwater resources).

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