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Brussels, 18 March 2009

CAP simplification: Commission well on the way to meeting target to reduce admin burden in agriculture by 25 percent by 2012

Thanks to considerable progress already made in simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy and other measures still to be carried out, the Commission is confident that it will meet its objective of reducing the administrative burden arising from the CAP by 25 percent by 2012. This view is supported by the recently adopted opinion on agriculture of the Stoiber group. A new report highlights a number of measures taken over the past three and a half years which reduce red tape for farmers, companies involved in the food business and administrations, and promise to reduce annual costs by hundreds of millions of euros , which will render European farming more competitive.

Since 2005, the Commission has pushed ahead with its CAP Simplification Action Plan, repealed hundreds of obsolete acts, introduced reforms which streamline the CAP, and improved law-making practices and IT systems. A key change was the recent Health Check agreement, which will render the CAP much less complex. Other measures on the Commission's agenda include the possibility of streamlining cross-compliance rules, a more regular review of legislation and possible changes to EU quality policy, including marketing standards and the system of geographical indications.

"We've been making great progress with our efforts to make the CAP simpler and more user-friendly," said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. "Simplifying the policy means less hassle for administrators, but more importantly, it means that farmers can spend more time in the field doing what they do best and less time doing paperwork. The changes we have made will also reduce the burden to farmers by hundreds of millions of euros. At a time of economic difficulties, this is a real bonus."

The Commission has been focusing on simplifying the CAP since it published its first Communication on the issue in October 2005. The programme is fully embedded in the overall Commission strategy on Better Regulation.

Achievements since 2005

The Action Plan:

Launched at the end of 2006, it has evolved from 20 to around 50 projects; 43 projects have already been implemented.

Removing the obligation to have a licence for beef exports without export refunds reduced costs to operators by around €16 per tonne.

Ending the obligation for a farmer to have a piece of land at his disposal for at least 10 months in order to apply for direct payments will cut administrative burdens for farms by around €19 million.

For imports, licence requirements were reduced from 500 to 65 and for exports, only 43 licence requirements remain. This is likely to cut costs by approximately €7.4 million.

The Commission has repealed specific marketing standards for 26 types of fruit and vegetables, meaning operators no longer face compliance costs, national authorities no longer need to carry out controls and less produce will be wasted.

Changes to the cross compliance rules could lead to a reduction in the administrative burden for farms of up to €5.7 million.

Policy-related actions:

The Health Check is likely to lead to a reduction in administrative burden to farms of around €135 million as a result of abolishing a number of specific aid schemes. The abolition of set-aside is estimated to reduce costs to farms by €146 million.

Simplification is aided by the reforms of the sugar, wine and fruit and vegetable sectors and the inclusion of these sectors into the Single Payment Scheme and the sCMO.

Technical simplification:

Almost 300 obsolete acts have been repealed.

The adoption of the sCMO replaces 21 individual common market organisations with one, reducing the number of articles from around 920 to around 230 and repealing 78 Council acts.

The number of legal instruments for State Aid has been reduced from six to three.

A new IT system ISAMM, to facilitate the exchange of information between the Commission and the Member States, is in its final development phase.

By better use of IT, Member States could achieve a further reduction of administrative burden on farms by more than €400 million.

Future actions:

Measures planned include:

New training for officials including a farm stay; the possible harmonisation of cross compliance rules; improvements to quality policy; a more regular review of legislation; training on writing skills to render legislation easier to read.

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