A limited number of Member States in the EU have gained experience with establishing co-operative agreements between agriculture and the water sector. Their main aim is to reduce or prevent water pollution caused by intensive farming practices. The research has shown that significant changes in farming practices have been achieved as a result of negotiation between farmers and water suppliers. Consequently, in many catchment areas improvements in water quality can be observed. Co-operative agreements have the important advantage that the measures taken can be tailored to the different local conditions in catchment areas. Reducing diffuse pollution resulting from intensive agriculture is one of the main issues of the EU Water Framework Directive. The current paper builds on the results of a EU-wide research project which examines the role co-operative agreements can play in water policy and the Common Agricultural Policy.

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