Agriculture: The Nitrate Directive and its Financial Repercussions
After Croatia’s entrance into the European Union (EU) on 1 July 2013, the EU Nitrate Directive (91/676/EEZ) takes effect and regulates environmental protection measures in the area of agricultural production. In order to protect ground and water, the Directive defines the maximum organic nitric oxide per hectare of used artificial fertilizer. Croatia is third in Europe behind the Netherlands and Belgium in the use of artificial fertilizer per hectare. According to the Nitrate Directive, during the first 4 years of adjustment, the use of organic nitric oxide is limited to 210 kg/ha and 170 kg/ha after the 4 year adjustment period. The Ministry of Agriculture is lagging behind in its adjustment program, since they have not identified the areas vulnerable to the nitric oxide limit and have not approved their Action Program for the implementation of the Directive, which was a prerequisite for the closing of Chapter 11 (Agriculture and Rural Development) in the EU negotiation process. The financial repercussions could be dramatic for Croatian farmers, since alignment with the Directive is prerequisite for the qualification of projects for EU funding. This means that farmers need to invest in technology that will assist them in qualifying for EU funding. Also, the reduction of nitric oxide will negatively affect the business of the national fertilizer producer, Petrokemija d.d. Kutina. Petrokemija is the largest national producer and sold 370 tons of artificial fertilizer in Croatia in 2011.