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A simplified CAP for Europe

Simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is essential to making the agricultural sector more competitive, creating jobs and contributing to rural development. Since 2005, a number of activities have been carried out in this respect. This Communication reviews progress made in the context of the CAP simplification programme, the single CMO, the reduction of administrative burden and the CAP Health Check, and proposes further actions for the future.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 18 March 2009 – A simplified CAP for Europe – A success for all [COM(2009) 128 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

Since 2005 the Commission has taken on a number of activities which have simplified the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from a technical * and policy * perspective.

Technical simplification

The main technical simplifications concern:

  • the repeal of legal acts deemed to be obsolete;
  • the adoption of the Regulation establishing a common organisation of agricultural markets in 2007, better known as the ‘single CMO’. This new Regulation replaces 21 individual common organisations of the market and groups them together into one single regulation;
  • the modification and streamlining of the policy on State aid, including the adoption of the de minimis Regulation in the agricultural sector in 2007;
  • a study to measure administrative costs;
  • the creation of platforms for the sharing of best practices concerning CAP simplification.

Policy simplification

The policy-related actions concern:

  • the sugar CMO reform, which merged the various quota types into one single quota. This reform also included the budget for sugar-aid into the envelope of the Single Payment Scheme and replaced intervention by private storage;
  • the Single Payment Scheme, to make it more “farmer friendly” and to simplify its functioning;
  • reforms in the fruit and vegetables and wine sectors, which integrated these sectors into the Single Payment Scheme;
  • impact assessments and evaluations, which involve stakeholders at an early stage of the legislative process and render it more transparent. They also improve the quality of proposals and the quality of debates on proposals.

Processes followed for CAP simplification

  • stakeholder consultation, screening, Action Plan;
  • the conference organised in October 2006;
  • internal training on legislative drafting;
  • IT systems: the ISAMM system (Information System for Agricultural Market Management and Monitoring) to facilitate the electronic exchange of information between Commission services and Member States is in its final development phase.

CAP simplification Action Plan

Launched at the end of 2006, the Action Plan is based on suggestions from Member States, stakeholders, producers’ organisations and the Commission. The plan had evolved to around fifty technical simplification projects by January 2009, of which 43 have been implemented.

The projects taken up concern, in particular:

  • the abolition of licences for exports of beef without export refunds;
  • egg marketing standards;
  • the abolition of the requirement that farmers should have a parcel at their disposal for at least 10 months before being able to apply for direct payments;
  • the elimination of most of the obligations relating to import and export licences;
  • specific marketing standards concerning 26 types of fruit and vegetables;
  • an amendment of the rules on cross-compliance * (for example, advance notice for on-the-spot checks); etc.

Special focus

An important accomplishment within the context of legislative simplification of the CAP was the adoption of the Council Regulation establishing a common organisation of agricultural markets, commonly referred to as the “single CMO”. The new Regulation replaces all 21 individual common organisations of the market and groups them together into one single regulation, thereby reducing the number of articles from around 920 to around 230 and repealing a total of 78 Council acts. Finally, the single CMO facilitates further simplification and reduction of administrative burden at the level of Commission implementing provisions.

Within the context of the Action Programme for reducing Administrative Burdens, a study assessing the administrative burden on farms arising from CAP was published at the end of 2007. This study, carried out in Denmark, Germany, France, Ireland and Italy, provides an assessment of the administrative costs associated with the Single Payment Scheme in 2006 and presents an outlook on future developments. The results of the study indicate that administrative burden on farms will decrease substantially. One factor is the learning curve effect and the disappearance of the administrative costs associated with the start-up of the Single Payment Scheme. The changes decided in the Health Check are another important reason.

The Health Check of the CAP reform simplifies the provisions of the Single Payment Scheme and renders the 2003 CAP reform more efficient. In particular, it stresses the need for further decoupling of support and the abolition of several schemes such as payments for energy crops and durum wheat, etc. to reduce the administrative burden on farms. The Health Check has also simplified the rules on the modulation franchise * as well as the provisions concerning the functioning of the National Reserve and payment entitlements that originate from that reserve.

Outlook

The actions under consideration concern:

  • common starting dates for legal acts;
  • communication and conservation of information;
  • a training programme for officials which involves a farm stay;
  • harmonising cross-compliance rules;
  • improvements in quality policy;
  • more regular review of legislation;
  • continuation of the Action Plan with the addition of new projects;
  • training on writing skills, to make legislation easier to read;
  • continuation of sharing best practices.

Context

This Communication takes stock of the activities carried out since the 2005 Communication on CAP simplification. As a result of the progress made in simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy, the Commission expects to achieve its objective of reducing administrative burdens by 25% by 2012.

Key terms of the Act
  • Technical simplification: implies revision of the legal framework, administrative procedures and management mechanisms to achieve streamlining and greater cost-effectiveness and attain existing policy objectives more effectively, without changing the underlying policies.
  • Policy simplification: reduces complexity through improvements to the agricultural support and rural development policy instruments. It may be described as ‘policy development with simplification implications’.
  • Cross-compliance: the payment of certain European aid is subject to compliance with basic environmental and health requirements.
  • Modulation: an instrument introduced by the 2003 reform which allows resources intended for direct aid to farmers to be transferred to rural development measures during the period up to 2013.
Last updated: 01.10.2009
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