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Brussels, 19 October 2005

Better regulation: Commission proposes major simplification for Common Agricultural Policy

As part of its ongoing drive to reduce the regulatory burden and red-tape (see IP/05/1189 and MEMO/05/340), the European Commission has today proposed a major simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy. Building on the improvements brought by the recent CAP reform, the time has now come to harmonise as much as possible the rules covering the various agricultural markets. The aim is to reduce red tape for both farmers and administrations by making rules more transparent, easier to understand and less burdensome to comply with. The Commission’s Communication, adopted today, calls for the production of an Action Plan during 2006, which will set out the concrete measures envisaged.

“The reforms of 2003 and 2004 gave a major boost to efforts to simplify the CAP, by combining a large number of direct payments into the Single Farm Payment scheme,” said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agricultural and Rural Development. “I now want to build on this to create a simpler and more streamlined set of laws to govern EU farm policy. The creation of a single Common Market Organisation will reduce bureaucracy and costs for farmers and administrations, give citizens better value for money and allow farmers to concentrate on what they do best – farming.”

The Commission has carried out a number of simplification actions since the mid-1990s. Today’s Communication forms part of the CAP’s contribution to better regulation and realising the objectives of the “Lisbon Strategy.”

As a fully integrated common policy, the CAP obviously replaces a large quantity of national legislation which would otherwise exist. Agricultural and rural development policies are by nature complex, reflecting the need to meet a wide range of agricultural conditions and administrative traditions, and both internal and external policy objectives.

However, the Commission shares the concerns increasingly expressed by farmers over the burdens of red tape. For this reason, the concept of “technical simplification” aims at complementing the agricultural reforms by focusing on revision of the legal framework, administrative procedures and management mechanisms to achieve streamlining and greater cost effectiveness, without changing the underlying policies. The Communication underlines that simplification must not become a pretext to reopen policy decisions.

The Communication proposes to:

  • identify and eliminate unnecessary or out of date provisions through a “legal audit” of existing rules, and to improve the structure and presentation of agricultural law
  • amalgamate the existing Common Market Organisations (CMOs) into a single CMO. The aim is to provide a single set of harmonised rules in the classic areas of market policy such as intervention, private storage, import tariff quotas, export refunds, safeguard measures, promotion of agricultural products, state aid rules, communications and reporting of data, without changing the substance of the existing instruments and mechanisms
  • assist national administrations to quantify and reduce burdens imposed on farmers
  • develop a CAP simplification action plan in 2006 with the concrete measures envisaged
  • take account of appropriate suggestions made by Member States and stakeholders
  • hold a simplification conference in 2006, focusing on the views and needs of stakeholders.

See also MEMO/05/382

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