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“Weaknesses in the implementation framework of specific agricultural support ”, say EU Auditors

Court of Auditors - ECA/13/41   26/11/2013

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EUROPEAN COURT OF AUDITORS

PRESS RELEASE

ECA/13/41

Luxembourg, 26 November 2013

“Weaknesses in the implementation framework of specific agricultural support ”, say EU Auditors

A report published today by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) reveals that there is insufficient evidence in the Member States that the measures introduced under Article 68 are necessary or relevant

At the introduction of the Single Payment Scheme in 2003, Member States were allowed to earmark up to 10 % of their national Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) ceilings to pay out specific support and, notably, to continue to apply certain production- linked support measures for farmers. This specific support was extended by Article 68 of Regulation No 73/2009 which increased the number of objectives or activities for which aid could be granted.

Twentyfour Member States have decided to make use of Article 68, through a patchwork of 113 extremely varied measures. The total budget for the 2010-2013 period is € 6.4 billion. The audit was conducted at the Commission’s services and in four Member States representing approximately 70 % of the budgetary allocation for these measures. These measures had been allocated 2 686 million euro for the 2010-2013 period, representing just over 40 % of the total budget for Article 68.

The audit found that the framework put in place to ensure that this support would only be provided in clearly defined cases is insufficient. The Commission has little control over the justification for such cases and that Member States had a large degree of discretion in making these payments. For the most part, the Commission can take no legally binding action, and the Member States’ only obligation is to notify the Commission of the decisions they take. As a result, the implementation of Article 68 was not always fully aligned with the CAP and there was insufficient evidence that the measures introduced under Article 68 are always necessary or relevant in terms of needs, effectiveness and levels of available aid.

Notes to the editors:

European Court of Auditors (ECA) special reports are published throughout the year, presenting the results of selected audits of specific EU budgetary areas or management topics.

This special report (SR 10/2013) is entitled “Common Agricultural Policy: Is the specific support provided under Article 68 of Council Regulation (EC) No 73/2009 well designed and implemented?”. The ECA examined whether the introduction of the support provided for in Article 68 and the way it was implemented in 2010 and 2011 (management and control arrangements) is consistent with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), necessary, relevant and implemented with a satisfactory control system.

The audit was conducted at the Commission’ s services and in Greece, Spain (Aragón, Galicia, Castilla la Mancha), France and Italy (Emilia Ro­magna, Lazio), Member States representing 68 % of the budgetary allo­cation for the 2010-2013 period and 73 % of the expenditure budgeted for the first two years. Work focused on a selection of 13 measures: aid for durum wheat (Greece), aid for sheep/goats in lessfavoured areas (Greece), new single payment entitlements in lessfavoured or mountain areas (Greece), aid for crop rotation in unirrigated areas (Spain), aid for the dairy sector in lessfavoured areas (Spain), aid for sheepmeat/goatmeat (Spain), additional aid for protein crops (France), aid for maintaining organic farming (France), aid for sheep/goats (France), crop insurance (France), crop rotation (Italy), improving the quality of agricultural products in the bovine sector (Italy), and insurance (Italy).

In addition to the weaknesses highlighted above, the audit revealed that the implementation of the support measures under Article 68 are affected by various shortcomings, such as weaknesses in the administrative and control systems that had been set up to ensure that existing measures were correctly implemented. This was equally true of the systems of management, administrative controls and onthespot checks, sometime despite management and control burdens already heavy. These shortcomings, and others outlined in the report, should be addressed in the context of the new CAP in which specific support is to be maintained in the form of coupled payments.

Based on its findings, the ECA notably recommends that:

  • specific support for certain agricultural activities should be based on a strict understanding of the provisions of Article 68 and the granting of such support should be adequately justified to the Commission and checked by it;

  • to be able to assume its ultimate responsibility un­der the system of shared management, the Com­mission should play a more active role in estab­lishing the criteria governing the implementation of the measures;

  • Member States should be required to demonstrate that each specific support measure which they in­tend to introduce is necessary (in terms of the need for and added value of an approach based on derogations), relevant (in terms of implementa­tion arrangements, award criteria and aid levels), and that it satisfies the criteria of sound financial management.

Further recommendations can be found in the report and its executive summary at www.eca.europa.eu.

Contact:

Aidas Palubinskas

Press Officer European Court of Auditors

Desk: +352 4398 45410 Mobile: +352 621 552224

press@eca.europa.eu www.eca.europa.eu Twitter: @EUAuditorsECA


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