Presidency succeeds to lay the groundwork for new definition of areas with natural handicaps

The Presidency laid the groundwork for a new system of definition of areas with natural handicaps. By adopting the conclusions of the Council, the Member States pledged to simulate the delimitation of Less Favoured Areas (LFA) on the basis of objective bio-physical criteria and provide these simulations to the Commission to find the optimal methods for delimitation of LFA. Thereby, the Commission would like to achieve more targeted support for farmers who farm in such areas. The Czech Presidency chose the issue of LFA as one of its priorities.

The Czech Presidency laid the groundwork for a new delimitation of areas with natural handicaps. Clear, objective and exactly measurable criteria should ensure improved direction of support for farmers farming in areas with natural handicaps. “Objective natural criteria will improve the transparency of the delimitation of less-favoured areas and they will enable the provision of funds where they are needed the most and thus maintain farming in some of the most important areas,” commented Minister Šebesta. As the Member States already pointed out in the discussions, the areas that we call “areas with natural handicaps” are, at the same time, of unique significance and “very valuable”.

The Commission has proposed eight biophysical criteria – low temperature, heat stress, soil drainage, soil texture and stoniness, soil rooting depth, soil chemical properties, soil moisture balance and slope – to carry out a new delimitation of other less-favoured areas. The Member States should test the proposed criteria and use them for creating maps of LFAs by the end of the year. The simulations should not anticipate the future form and scope of LFAs, but verify if the proposed criteria are valid for all LFAs and will help to better target financial aid in such areas. Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel stressed that the Commission’s primary objective is not to reduce the scope of the less-favoured areas, but to set up a more objective and transparent delimitation. At the same time, the Commissioner invited the Member States to propose alternative criteria which would guarantee the objectivity of LFA delimitation based on scientific data. Commissioner Boel called upon further cooperation in creating the new LFA system adding that the corresponding legislative proposal should be discussed as late as autumn 2011 and should be put into the broader context of the future Common Agricultural Policy and rural development beyond 2013.


  • Tereza M. Dvořáčková, spokesperson of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic for the Presidency of the EU Council
  •  tel.: +420 221 813 063, mobile: +420 737 213 030; e-mail:

Last update: 16.8.2011 15:18

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