The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has published an opinion on the draft CAP regulations suggesting that they are unfocused, burdensome and complex. The ECA welcomed a number of elements in the reform plans but also said that EU agriculture policy would remain too complex, making it difficult for paying agencies and beneficiaries to administer. The ECA highlights that there will be six layers of rules and that despite the claimed focus on results, the policy remains fundamentally input-based (expenditure oriented), and therefore oriented more towards compliance than performance.
The ECA also expressed concerns over the effectiveness of capping and the definition of ‘active farmers’. According to the Commission, the capping plan would see approximately €1bn redistributed to innovation projects under the 2nd Pillar in the Member State concerned, but the ECA says the redistribution effect would be “limited” as it would affect only 0.5% of the planned direct payments over the period. While the ECA notes the Commission’s goal of focussing the payment of CAP subsidies to ‘active farmers’ it has doubts as to whether the measures proposed can be implemented effectively without imposing an excessive administrative burden on managing agencies and farmers. On the ‘greening’ plans, the ECA called for an increase to the 3 hectare threshold for the crop diversification requirement and said the obligation to maintain grassland post-2014 could be contrary to environmental aims if farmers convert to temporary grass or arable before this date.
To access the opinion, see: http://eca.europa.eu/portal/pls/portal/docs/1/13768739.PDF