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Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC)

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The Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAECs) are defined in the framework of the so-called cross compliance. The GAECs consist of two components.

  • 1- In order to ensure that all agricultural land, especially land which is no longer used for production purposes, is maintained in good agricultural and environmental conditions, Member States shall define minimum requirements, at national or at regional level, on the basis of 5 issues and 15 standards (8 compulsory and 7 optional) described in Annex III of Council Regulation (EC) No 73/2009.

Minimum GAECs requirements should be defined for all "compulsory standards" and they should take into account the specific characteristics of the areas concerned, including soil and climatic condition, existing farming systems, land use, crop rotation, farming practices and farm structures. Minimum requirement can be defined at national or regional level.

The definition of minimum requirements for the "optional standards" is not compulsory for the Member State except where the Member State has already defined a minimum requirement for that standard before 1 January 2009 or/and national rules addressing that standard are applied in the Member State.

Member States shall not define minimum requirements which are not foreseen in the GAEC framework.

The implementation of the GAEC framework results in a high variety of minimum requirements throughout Europe and sometimes even within the MS when GAECs are defined at regional level.

GAEC framework, according to Annex III of Council Regulation (EC) No 73/2009

Issue Compulsory Standards Optional Standards
Soil erosion: Protect soil through appropriate measures Minimum soil cover Retain terraces
Minimum land management reflecting site-specific conditions
Soil organic matter: Maintain soil organic matter levels through appropriate practices Arable stubble management Standards for crop rotations
Soil structure: Maintain soil structure through appropriate measures Appropriate machinery use
Minimum level of maintenance: Ensure a minimum level of maintenance and avoid the deterioration of habitats Retention of landscape features, including, where appropriate, hedges, ponds, ditches, trees in line, in group or isolated and field margins (**) Minimum livestock stocking rates or/and appropriate regimes
Avoiding the encroachment of unwanted vegetation on agricultural land Establishment and/or retention of habitats (*)
Protection of permanent pasture Prohibition of the grubbing up of olive trees
Maintenance of olive groves and vines in good vegetative condition
Protection and management of water: Protect water against pollution and run-off, and manage the use of water Establishment of buffer strips along water courses (***)
Where use of water for irrigation is subject to authorisation, compliance with authorisation procedures (*)

(*) It shall apply from 1 January 2010

(**) The specification of landscape features shall apply from 1 January 2010

(***) It shall apply from 1 January 2010 at the earliest and by 1 January 2012 at the latest


  • 2- Member States shall ensure that land which was under permanent pasture at the date provided for the area aid applications for 2003 is maintained under permanent pasture. For new Member States this condition refers to the land which was under permanent pasture on 1 May 2004 (for Bulgaria and Romania on 1 January 2007). Member States have the obligation at member state level to ensure the maintenance of the ratio of the land under permanent pasture in relation to the total agricultural area. They also have to implement measures at the level of the farms if the ratio of permanent pasture in the member state decreases.



Definition of standard

In the context of cross-compliance controls, standard means the standards as defined by the Member States according to Annex III of the Council Regulation (EC) No 73/2009 as well as the obligation in relation to the maintenance of the permanent pasture land.


Old GAEC framework before the Health Check of the CAP

Before the Council Regulation (EC) No 73/2009 have introduced the Health Check modifications, this was the GAEC framework established by Council Regulation No. 1782/2003 no more applicable


Issue Standards
Soil erosion: Protect soil through appropriate measures Minimum soil cover
Minimum land management reflecting site-specific conditions
Retain terraces
Soil organic matter: Maintain soil organic matter levels through appropriate practices Standards for crop rotations where applicable
Arable stubble management
Soil structure: Maintain soil structure through appropriate measures Appropriate machinery use
Minimum level of maintenance: Ensure a minimum level of maintenance and avoid the deterioration of habitats Minimum livestock stocking rates or/and appropriate regimes
Protection of permanent pasture
Retention of landscape features, including, where appropriate, the prohibition of the grubbing up of olive trees
Avoiding the encroachment of unwanted vegetation on agricultural land
Maintenance of olive groves in good vegetative condition
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