Agricultural support payments in the EU are increasingly connected to compliance with environmental standards, through cross-compliance and "Good Farming Practice"-conditions. In this paper, this relatively new approach is analysed regarding targeting, compatibility with legal procedures, and effects on income and production. Compliance with standards is reinforced by more systematic controls and reductions of support payments. As farms are affected by such sanctions to a different extent, risk-analysis for selection of farms to be controlled is a crucial element of implementation. The real environmental impacts have to be considered, especially if indirect control indicators are applied. Furthermore, technical assistance and audits have to be promoted for the implementation of environmental standards.