Other available languages: none
Member of the European Commission responsible for Agriculture and Rural
This morning I presented my colleagues with a report on the enormous progress we have made in simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy.
Since we launched our campaign in October 2005, we have done all we can to make our policy less bureaucratic and easier to use.
Of course, simplification is a worthwhile aim in itself.
It reduces red tape for farmers, administrations and other operators in the food sector.
But as today's report shows, it can also save money - lots of money.
And at a time of economic crisis, this is a real bonus.
CAP simplification forms an integral part of the Commission's overall strategy on better regulation.
Progress to date has been so great that we are confident that we can meet our target of reducing the administrative burden arising from the CAP by 25 percent by 2012.
These results have been explicitly acknowledged by the Stoiber Group.
Mr Stoiber has written to me, welcoming the tremendous efforts that have been undertaken to simplify the CAP.
Let me just take you through some of the success stories of the past three and a half years.
The simplification of the direct payment system, including the measures taken in the Health Check, is worth some €1.4 billion in reduced administrative costs.
The report includes a number of other examples with clear financial benefits for our farmers and food companies.
These include reduced licensing requirements, simpler cross compliance rules and the end of the obligation for a farmer to have a piece of land at his disposal for 10 months to claim direct aid.
For more details on the individual measures, I strongly recommend the report to you.
Since 2006, our simplification efforts have been coordinated through a rolling Action Plan.
43 projects from this plan have already been implemented.
Famously, last year the Commission repealed specific marketing standards for 26 types of fruit and vegetables.
This means operators no longer face compliance costs, national authorities no longer need to carry out controls and less produce will be wasted.
Almost 300 obsolete pieces of legislation have been repealed.
The adoption of the single CMO replaces 21 individual common market organisations with one, reducing the number of articles from around 920 to around 230 and repealing 78 Council acts.
Ladies and gentlemen
As you can see, we have made a lot of progress.
But we are not resting on our laurels.
The Commission will continue to work on an improved IT system to improve information exchange between Brussels and the Member States.
We believe that through better use of IT, Member States could further reduce the administrative burden on farms by more than €400 million.
We are also looking into:
Finally, we are also looking into new training opportunities for officials in DG AGRI to include a stay on a farm.
What better way to ensure that the people managing farm policy are sensitive to the needs of the farmers?!
I am confident that we will achieve a simplified CAP for Europe, making our farming more competitive, preserving and creating jobs and contributing to a sound development of our rural areas.