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With the Water Framework Directive (WFD), the European Union has established a legal framework for the protection of all aquatic ecological systems, including groundwater. This directive may have advantages for the water regime in ecologically sensitive areas but may also bring some economic disadvantages for farmers. The economic implications of the WFD for irrigated agriculture with regard to various scenarios and the implementation of alternative water policy measures are analysed. The results show that demand for irrigation water, farmers’ reactions with regard to operational and strategic decisions and income effects strongly depend on the water policy measures implemented.


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