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Brussels, 19 December 2006

Commission welcomes decision to prolong simplified aid scheme in new Member States

The European Commission welcomes today's decision by the Agriculture Council to extend until 2010 the simplified direct aid scheme applicable in eight of the Member States which joined the EU in 2004. In the interests of simplifying the management of the CAP, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia will be allowed to continue operating the Single Area Payment Scheme (SAPS) for a further two years until the end of 2010. Under SAPS, uniform per-hectare entitlements are granted within any one region from regional financial envelopes.

"I am looking closely at how we can make the operation of the Common Agricultural Policy as simple as possible," said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. "In this context, extending the SAPS scheme makes perfect sense because it has proved a very simple and efficient method of supporting farmers in the countries which operate it.”

Improving functioning of direct payments to farmers:

Todays’ agreement, based on a proposal from the Commission, includes improvements to certain rules governing direct payments, notably:

  • the possibility for the new Member States using SAPS to continue to use this simple way of granting income support to the farmers until the end of the year 2010, instead of 2008; from the start of 2009, farmers in the countries opting to continue this simplified direct aid scheme would have, as in other Member States, to start complying under ‘cross-compliance’ with statutory requirements in the areas of environment, public, animal and plant health and animal welfare to receive full payments under direct payment schemes and certain rural development measures;
  • the simplification of the eligibility rules under the single payment scheme for land with olive trees;
  • the clarification that the phasing-in of direct payments in the new Member States does not apply to the direct payments related to the sugar

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