Nitrates Directive

This Directive aims to protect water quality across Europe by preventing nitrates from agricultural sources polluting ground and surface waters and by promoting the use of good farming practices.

Under the Directive, all Member States have to analyse their waters’ nitrate concentration levels and trophic state. The Member States identify territories draining into waters that are or could be affected by high nitrate levels or eutrophication as vulnerable zones. Then, they establish codes of good practice for farmers, to be implemented on a voluntary basis throughout their territory, and develop specific action programmes for compulsory implementation by farmers located in nitrate-vulnerable zones. National monitoring continues further, and every four years Member States have to submit the report on the water quality to the European Commission.