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Member of the European Commission responsible for Agriculture for and Rural
Ladies and gentlemen.
The Commission has just adopted our proposal for a Single Common Market Organisation for all agricultural products.
This represents a major step in our ongoing process of streamlining and simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy.
It will replace 21 different CMOs, covering everything from the beef and veal market to olive oil.
It will bring under a single roof rules on everything from public intervention to marketing and quality standards.
It will allow us to repeal 41 Council legal acts containing more than 600 articles and replace them with a single Regulation with less than 200.
This will slim down legislation in the farming sector, improve its transparency and make the policy more easily accessible.
It is an example of applied better regulation and therefore forms an integral part of the Lisbon strategy.
The single CMO should make life easier first and foremost for administrators, reduce costs for the food industry and have useful knock-on effects for our farmers.
As I travel through Europe, meeting farmers and representatives of our Member States, I often hear calls for less bureaucracy.
This is certainly something I can subscribe to.
And we are currently trying to quantify the situation through a survey in five Member States of the administrative burden of applying the direct payments scheme.
We need to get our farmers out of the office and into the fields, doing what they are best at.
Likewise, we need to minimise the expense of running the policy for administrations and keep down admin costs for our food companies.
Ladies and gentlemen.
As you know, the CAP is complex.
To a certain extent that is unavoidable – the CAP addresses complex political and economic issues and is the result of often delicate political compromises.
It is also the framework under which billions of euros of public money are paid out to millions of recipients.
Proper controls are absolutely vital.
But this must not stop us from doing all we can to make things simpler.
The reforms since 2003 started the process, bringing the different direct aid schemes under one roof.
The SAPS system in eight of the new Member States has shown itself to be a simple way of paying direct support to farmers.
In October, we unveiled an Action Plan for simplifying the CAP, with 20 concrete technical actions.
In the meantime 4 more measures have been added which can make life easier for our farmers. This process will continue.
Today's proposal is the latest – and most significant - stage in this process of technical simplification.
But let me stress: this is not a way to introduce reforms through the back door.
It is a technical measure to make our rules easier to navigate, slimmer, more accessible and less burdensome to apply.
Political policy changes are happening in parallel, for example in our ongoing reforms of the banana, fruit and vegetables and wine markets.
These will be absorbed into the single CMO once final decisions have been taken in Council.
At the end of the process, the final result should be that the CAP is covered by just four main Council acts:
Those on the single CMO, the direct aid regime, rural development and the financing of the CAP.
You may be asking what this really means in concrete terms.
For one thing: I believe that cutting the volume of legislation is a good thing in itself.
For companies, administrations and farmers' organisations, the new set-up will save time and money.
It will offer more legal certainty by offering a one-stop-shop for all questions on the organisation of the markets.
There are considerable savings to be made on research and legal fees and lower error rates in seeking out the relevant information.
In short, the single CMO will bring new structure to the current jungle of norms.
While farmers will be less directly affected, we should not underestimate the indirect effects on their working lives from the improvements I have just described.
What's more, thanks to the extra transparency it offers, the single CMO can serve as the basis for future political simplification.
It will allow us to pick up on any anomalies in the regulations and identify any exceptions or derogations which are no longer justified.
Ladies and gentlemen.
Let me underline again that the single CMO forms just part of a much wider simplification package.
So before I open the floor to your questions, let me come back to the process of political simplification of the CAP.
I have already mentioned the reforms in bananas, fruit and vegetables and wine.
Beyond this, we are already turning our thoughts to the 'Health Check' of the 2003 reforms and the mid-term review of the Financial Perspectives.
These must be occasions for a very frank debate about the future and represent a unique opportunity for further simplification.
I want to put everything on the table.
We need to look at the future of quotas, set-aside and intervention.
We need to look at the possibility of further decoupling.
We need to look at the CAP's long-term future beyond 2013.
One thing is certain: the simpler it is, the better equipped the CAP will be to play its role in the EU's rural economy.