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Taxation of Agricultural Land in Europe: A Comparative Approach

Within the European Union (EU), agriculture is the subject of a long-standing, well-established and well-known common policy with the largest budget (386.6 billion euros for the period 2021-2027, i.e. 32% of the European budget). It is also affected by the internal market policy. In addition, various EU environmental directives apply to agricultural land. This is the case for biodiversity (Birds Directive, Habitats Directive, Environmental Liability Directive), environmental assessment (Projects Directive, Plans and Programmes Directive), water (Water Framework Directive, Nitrates Directive, Sewage Sludge Directive, Floods Directive, etc.). The EU is also party to several international conventions in the field of biodiversity that concern agricultural land (Convention on Biological Diversity, Bern Convention, Bonn Convention, Ramsar Convention, etc.).


Although European agriculture is subject to this threefold harmonization process, the rules for taxing agricultural land seem to differ quite a lot from one state to another. However, taxation affects several aspects of agricultural and environmental policies. It can encourage or discourage the profitability of agriculture, encourage the practice of a particular type of agriculture that is more or less favorable to biodiversity, and encourage or discourage a change in the use of agricultural land. Taxation of agricultural land therefore has multiple effects, both on the agricultural land itself and on agricultural, land use, urban planning and environmental policies. Moreover, within the debates on possible biodiversity policy strategies, the taxation of agricultural land and its modalities may favor one option or another.

For these different reasons, a comparative analysis of the taxation of agricultural land in Europe seemed useful to the French Foundation for Biodiversity Research.


The note is available in the downloadable resources section.