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Brussels, 12 June 2008

Commission takes latest step in CAP simplification process

The European Commission has taken a further step in the ongoing process of simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy: the elimination of the vast majority of licence obligations for imports and exports in the agricultural sector and the rationalisation of related rules[1]. The changes will result in clear and simple rules and a substantial reduction in administrative burdens for both operators and national administrations. Following the adoption of the Single CMO last year by the Council, the Commission has now decided to substantially reduce the number of products that are subject to an import or export licence. The rules for products that will remain subject to a licensing obligation have been harmonised and simplified, which renders them more accessible and easier to work with.

Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "Simplifying the CAP and reducing the burden of red tape is one of my main priorities. I welcome the latest step in this ongoing process. It will not be the last."

Why licences?

The use of licences allows for a detailed monitoring of trade in often sensitive product areas and facilitates the anticipation of trade developments. It also makes it possible to manage CAP measures such as tariff quotas and export refunds. Import licenses will also continue to apply to some products that are imported under preferential trade terms.

What changes?

Overall, the number of products for which a licence is required has been considerably reduced. Where at present around 500 products (at 8-digit tariff line level) are subject to a licensing obligation for imports, from 1 July onwards (1 August for wine) that number will only be 65. With regard to exports, only 43 products will have to be accompanied by a licence. Compared to the number of tariff lines covered by the single CMO, which is around 1650, these numbers are quite limited. These changes represent a reduction well in excess of the 25 percent target of the Commission for the reduction of the administrative burden.

In the cereal sector, the number of products for which an import licence obligation applies is reduced from 133 to 21. Export certificates for cereals will continue to apply for 9 products, rather than the original 133.

For wine, products covered by an import licence obligation will decrease from about 100 to zero from 1 August onwards as a consequence of the wine reform, allowing traders to import any product covered by the new wine CMO regulation without a licence. The licensing obligation will also be totally abolished for imports at full duty in the beef and veal sector and in the dairy sector.

For those products that will continue to be accompanied by a licence (except in the case of export refunds and tariff rate quotas), the detailed rules will be laid down in one single regulation that governs all aspects of licences, clearly identifies all the products for which a licence is required and lays down the rules with regard to the period of validity of the licence as well as the level of security.


This reduction in the number of products for which a licence requirement exists is a major simplification. It represents a good example of the rationalisation that can be performed following the adoption of the single CMO. It also shows the Commission's determination to reconsider policy tools and keep them only when fully justified.

Operators will no longer have to apply for licences and deposit costly securities, and national authorities will no longer need to process them, thereby saving time and reducing costs. Many traders, importers and exporters will no longer need to apply for and subsequently manage licences at all; those that do so will have fewer licences to deal with.

This leads to a reduction in administrative costs for operators and customs authorities.

For national administrations, the savings are clear cut – less work.

Most operators (importers and exporters) will gain on 2 fronts:

  • they will be able to save on the administrative costs of handling the paperwork associated with the licences which will not be required in future
  • they will not have to incur the costs of depositing (and recovering) a security for a licence

Finally, this decision underlines the commitment of the European Commission to simplification and the reduction of administrative burden. It will allow the Common Agricultural Policy to once again contribute to the overall target of a 25 percent reduction in administrative burden by 2012 by agreeing a reduction of well over 25 percent in this field.

[1] Commission Regulation (EC) No 514/2008 – OJ L 150, page 7

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