Brussels, 27 November 2001
Pre-accession farm aid for Slovenia: Go-ahead payments for 6.4 million Euro Sapard programme
The European Commission has today decided to confer the management of Sapard aid to the Slovenian authorities, enabling Slovenia to commence the implementation of its Sapard programme. Under this scheme, Slovenia will now be entitled to € 6.4million annually. Payment of the first advance can now be made (maximum 49% of the annual amount). Slovenia is the third candidate country to move into the operational stage of the innovative Sapard initiative. This first decision on the provisional conferral of management of aid covers the four main measures of the Slovenian Sapard programme: investments in agricultural holdings, investments in the food processing industry, economic diversification of farms and, the development and improvement of rural infrastructure.
"I am glad to see that Slovenia can now reap the financial benefit from its considerable efforts in preparing for the implementation of these innovative programme. This € 6.4 million shall contribute to the modernisation and re-structuring of the Slovenian farm sector. Sapard also gives Slovenia as a future EU-member an opportunity to gain valuable experience in applying the EU-mechanisms for the management of EU agriculture funds. "
Why was the Commission decision necessary?
In order to operate, applicant countries must have their Sapard agency accredited. To this end Slovenia has concluded its national accreditation work, which was accepted in the form of an Act of Accreditation issued by the competent Slovenian authority. The Slovenian authorities notified the Commission of this accreditation process and a complete package of information was sent to the Commission. The Commission examined, in Brussels, the basis for the national accreditation, obtaining supplementary information and clarification as part of a detailed audit.
The EU rules for external aid such as Sapard do not normally allow project selection, tendering and contracting to be undertaken by the applicant countries without ex-ante approval by the Commission.
By decentralising management to the candidate country, Sapard gives a future member an opportunity to gain valuable experience in applying the mechanisms for EU funds, as well as obtaining the benefits of a rural development programme. On a broader front, the investment in this new Agency will build skills that will be readily transferable to the management of other EU funds. Implementation of the Sapard scheme is therefore of major significance to each of the candidate countries.
The Decision covers four key measures in the rural development programme. A subsequent decision conferring management will be necessary once the accredited Sapard Agency is ready to implement the remaining measures.
What is the state of play in the other applicant countries?
At present, Bulgaria and Estonia are the only other countries for which the management of Sapard funds has been conferred. However, several other applicant countries are in the process of finalising their structures and procedures. For two of these countries (Lithuania - decision expected in November and Latvia - decision expected in December), the Commission is in the process of preparing decisions regarding the conferring of management of Sapard funds.
The Special Pre-Accession Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (Sapard), provided for in Council Regulation EC No. 1268/1999, aims to support the efforts made by the Central and Eastern European applicant Countries as they prepare for their participation in the Common Agricultural Policy and the Single Market. It has two major objectives: first, to implement the "acquis"; second, to solve priority problems in the field of agriculture and rural development.
Annual indicative budget allocations (in € million, at constant 2000 prices)
Following the adoption of Slovenia's agricultural and rural development plan on 27 October 2000, the Multi-Annual Financing Agreement between the Commission and Slovenia was signed on 5 March 2001. The Slovenian government ratified this Agreement on 6 July 2001. The Agreement was published in the Slovenian Official Bulletin on 23 July 2001 and came into force for the Republic of Slovenia on 24 July 2001. This Agreement lays down the Community management and control rules for Sapard for the whole programming period (2000-2006) and includes the principle of full decentralisation of programme management to an agency established under the responsibility of the applicant country. The Annual Financing Agreement between the Commission and Slovenia for the 2000 allocation of €6.4million was signed on 5 March 2001 whereby all necessary formalities for its conclusion were completed.