Luxembourg, 27 November 2012
“The distribution of income aid to farmers in new Member States should be reconsidered” - EU Auditors
The European Court of Auditors has published its first special report (SR16/2012) on income support paid to farmers in the new Member States. It is calling for reform to ensure that income support be directed to the active farmer who conducts concrete and regular agricultural activities. In particular, public entities managing state land and not otherwise involved in farming should be excluded from EU farm support and no payments should be made in relation to unutilized land or land which is mainly devoted to non-agricultural activities.
The Single Area Payment Scheme (SAPS) was designed to enable the new Member States who joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, to support farmers’ income. It is currently applied in 10 EU Member States and the related expenditure amounted to 5 billion euro in 2011. The Court’s report focuses on the beneficiaries of the policy, on eligible land and on the contribution of the scheme to the objective of supporting farmers’ income.
The overall conclusion of the audit is that the implementation of the scheme resulted in a number of questionable features:
The Court recommends a better targeted and results oriented policy whereby support to farmers’ income should be directed to the active farmer who conducts concrete and regular agricultural activities and should exclude public entities. The eligibility of land for aid should be clearly defined and limited to parcels on which concrete and regular agricultural activities are required. A more balanced distribution of aid between farmers should be sought either by capping higher individual payments or by taking into consideration the specific circumstances of the farms in the different regions. The Commission should address the structural weaknesses in the farm sector and actively support the Member States and more closely monitor their preparations for the introduction of a future entitlement-based scheme.
The Commission’s legislative proposals for the Common agricultural policy after 2013 only partly address the observations made by the Court (opinion 1/2012 of the European Court of Auditors on certain proposals for regulations relating to the common agricultural policy for the period 2014-2020). When discussing and adopting these proposals, the Parliament and Council may wish to consider whether they should be reviewed along the lines set out in the recommendations of the Court.
European Court of Auditors Desk: +352 4398 45410 Mobile: +352 621 552224