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Agriculture and rural development


Linking income support to respect for European Union rules.

Conditionality explained

In order to receive EU income support, farmers must respect a set of basic rules. The interplay between this respect for rules and the support provided to farmers is called conditionality. 

Rules farmers are expected to comply with include: 

  • statutory management requirements (SMRs), these apply to all farmers whether or not they receive support under the common agricultural policy (CAP); 

  • good agricultural and environmental conditions (GAECs), these apply only to farmers receiving support under the CAP. 

Farmers violating EU law relating to environmental, public and animal health, animal welfare or land management will have their EU support reduced and may face other penalties.

Aims of conditionality

Through conditionality (previously known as cross-compliance), farmers are encouraged to comply with high EU standards for public, plant, and animal health and welfare. Conditionality plays a role in making European farming more sustainable.

CAP 2023-27

In June 2021, following extensive negotiations between the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission, agreement was reached on reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP). This agreement was formally adopted on 2 December 2021, and the CAP 2023-27 entered into force on 1 January 2023. 

Compared to the previous CAP (2014-22), the rules for conditionality include a higher level of ambition in several domains, as it includes the most effective aspects of the greening practices into new conditionality rules.

Related information


CAP Strategic Plans

26 JUNE 2023
Approved 28 CAP Strategic Plans (2023-27)

Statutory management requirements

All farmers, whether receiving CAP support or not, have to respect statutory management requirements (SMR).

The SMR include EU rules on public, animal and plant health, animal welfare, and the environment. 

Public, animal and plant health

​​Animal welfare


Good agricultural and environmental conditions

In addition to the statutory management requirements, farmers receiving CAP support have to respect EU standards on good agricultural and environmental condition of land (GAEC). 

These standards are designed to: 

  • maintain a stable area of permanent grassland;

  • protect wetlands and peatlands;

  • maintain soil organic matter and soil structure through a ban of burning arable stubble; 

  • protect water from pollution through the establishment of buffer strips along water courses;

  • prevent soil erosion through relevant practices;

  • protect soil by defining rules for minimum soil cover; 

  • preserve the soil potential through crop rotation; 

  • maintain non-productive areas and landscape features, and ensure the retention of landscape features through, for example, a ban on cutting hedges and trees during the bird breeding and rearing season;

  • protect environmentally-sensitive permanent grasslands in Natura 2000 sites.

Latest information

Penalties for non-compliance

Under the conditionality system, farmers not respecting EU rules can see the following support reduced.

  • Direct payments (decoupled or coupled).

  • Most rural development payments: area-based payments including agri-environmental and climate commitments, areas with natural constraints, NATURA 2000 measures, afforestation measures, forest environmental payments, agroforestry, organic farming.

  • Wine sector payments: restructuring and conversion of vineyards and green harvesting.

Related information

Income support

Rural development

Legal basis

Conditionality is governed by:


  • Exhibitions
  • Friday 26 July 2024, 09:00 - Monday 29 July 2024, 18:30 (CEST)
  • Libramont-Chevigny, Belgium
  • External event