Two policy frameworks of the EU play an important role in enhancing the ecological sustainability of agriculture: environmental policy and the common agricultural policy (CAP). The latter includes some positive incentives for environmental contributions (‘the provider gets’). A central principle of environmental policy is that the producer should bear the costs of meeting certain minimum standards to control pollution (the ‘polluter pays’ principle). Starting in the early 1970s with the first Environmental Action Programme, the EU is now executing the seventh such programme. Progress has been made in developing water and air policy but less in the case of soil protection. Many environmental indicators show positive past trends, but meeting environmental targets remains a challenge.