Policy Paper 93

The Nitrates Directive, incompatible with livestock farming? The case of France and Northern European countries

As the Nitrates Directive is beeing discussed again, Philippe Le Goffe draws a comparison between manure policies in France and in Northern European countries. He wonders if the directive is compatible with livestock farming.

Comparing France’s manure policies to those of the northern European countries brings to light significant differences in mindsets.
Policies in the north of Europe, which have gradually been aligned with Denmark’s policy, have focused action on effective compliance with fertilisation balance, without attempting to block or avoid necessary structural changes.
By contrast, France based its manure policy on controlling and supporting its livestock farming structures, without allocating sufficient means to control mineral surpluses.

The policies enacted in the northern European countries are more in line with economic analysis recommendations than France’s policy.

Based on this observation, we put forward several recommendations that could improve the ecological and economic efficiency of French policy:
Effectively apply regulations, by defining the right ecological standards and sanctions.

Expand sensitive zones, where stricter measures would be applied according to ecological issues.
Simplify regulations, by eliminating measures that unnecessarily limit farm restructuring.
Facilitate manure transfers, to help minimise manure disposal costs.
Compensate income losses temporarily but without creating distortions.