Keywords: nitrogen fertilisers, nitrogenous pollution, economic instruments, fertiliser taxation, Europe, price-elasticity, nonpoint nitrogen pollution control, fertiliser regulation, water pollution
Fertiliser taxation and regulation of nonpoint water pollution: a critical analysis based on European experiences
In Europe, the effectiveness of current forms of control of nonpoint nitrogen pollution is considered to be weak. This assessment highlights the need to introduce more efficient modes of regulation. Many economists recommend a simple tax based on known polluting factors, for example a tax on purchases of mineral fertilisers. In addition to its simplicity of application and low information cost, one can argue that this tax has already been implemented in several European countries and could prefigure a more general decision at European Union level. However, the same economists disagree as to the valuation of the decreasing use of fertilisers that could be expected, since the issue of the price-elasticity of demand is highly controversial. The aim of this paper is to present a critical assessment of research undertaken up to now and of actual experiences in taxation. We also highlight the role of determining factors in long-term trends in the consumption of nitrogen fertilisers in European countries.