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Background paper: Desertification in the European Union

Desertification is a form of land degradation in drylands. It results from unsustainable land management practices and climatic factors. Thirteen EU Member States, not only in the Mediterranean region, but also in Central and Eastern Europe, have declared that they are affected by desertification. Desertification is a consequence, but also a cause of climate change: it is aggravated by more droughts, rising temperatures, less precipitation, and it also magnifies climate change by reducing the capacity of soil to retain carbon.

Desertification is a cross cutting challenge for many EU policy areas such as climate, environment, agriculture, research and cohesion. EU support for combating desertification can be provided through several funding programmes from different policy areas, such as Rural Development, Environment, Cohesion or Research.

The ECA is examining whether the risk of desertification is being addressed effectively and efficiently in the EU. The audit includes visits to EU projects addressing desertification in five Member States (Cyprus, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain), which are being used to assess the implementation and the monitoring of the EU’s desertification-related strategies.

Read the press release, the full text paper "Desertification in the EU"

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