Copa and Cogeca has underlined the great strides that European farmers and cooperatives have made in improving the quality of Europe’s fresh water at a launch event for the European Environment Agency's “State of Water” report 2018.

The report shows that thanks to the implementation of European water legislation in EU Member States, the quality of Europe’s environment is constantly improving, but work remains to be done.

Speaking at the event, chairman of Copa and Cogeca’s Environment Working Party, Niels Peter Norring, said: “Significant environmental progress has been made by EU farmers and cooperatives in the last decade, as a result of the tough environmental rules in place under the Common Agricultural Policy, or CAP.

"The farming sector will continue to contribute to using all of its resources more sustainably.

One of the main priorities under the future CAP is tackling environmental issues.

“In this context, precision farming is playing a vital role. Through smart farming, we will be able to manage natural resources more efficiently and minimize the environmental impact.

"For this, training and advisory services, as well as knowledge exchange and financial incentives, need to be strengthened.

Water storage and water re-use are also important strategies to reduce the amount of freshwater we use and to further improve on-farm water use efficiency.

Norring added: “But some important issues remain unsolved. Nutrient leaching from broken, old or undersized sewage systems into the groundwater is a problem, which is not sufficiently recognized.

“In addition, untreated rainwater from urban areas and medicinal residues from human use contain high concentrations of substances harmful to the water quality.

“The negative impact of climate change on water ecosystems, especially for lakes and rivers, also remains underestimated.

“This situation will get worse in view of the increasing levels of drought. We, therefore, have to be realistic and accept that in the near future we will not be able to achieve the goals set out by the Water Framework Directive.”