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CAP simplification - smoke screen for law breaking and waste of public money?


17 Aug 2009


Agriculture & Food
Health & Consumers

BirdLife International has written to the European Commission to express deep concern over many of the proposals for the simplification of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), submitted by a group of Member States at the April 2009 Agriculture Council.

Several of these proposals seem to be driven less by the objective of producing simpler, better regulation, and more by the desire to reduce EU Commission control and weaken environmental requirements for farmers. Proposals include scrapping the protection of permanent grasslands, weakening environmental controls on farmers receiving subsidies and eliminating the requirements on Member States to monitor the success of agri-environmental schemes and other rural development measures.

BirdLife believes the CAP should be as simple as possible and accepts that streamlining of legislative requirements could reduce the workload of national administrations and better encourage land managers to fulfil the responsibilities they signed up for when applying for CAP payments.

However, simplification must not be a cover for de-regulation, and particularly not a watering down of environmental rules built into cross compliance.

If taxpayers are to accept public money going to farmers, the following principles should be adopted:

- Sustainability conditions attached to payments must be comprehensive, well-detailed, controllable and properly enforced;

- Requirements and procedures for approval by the Commission and for reporting of implementation and results must be robust and ensure EU wide consistency;

- The impact of policy instruments must be appropriately monitored against stated objectives and targets.

“It is disheartening to see that rather than [...] tightening the screws to ensure legislation is respected, some Member States are asking to weaken the [...] feeble safeguards in place” —Ariel Brunner , Senior Agriculture Policy Officer at BirdLife International European Division
Particularly worrying are the proposals for further weakening of cross compliance, the system requiring farmers enjoying public subsidies to respect basic EU legislation and minimal good practice. In a recent report the European Court of Auditors has slammed Member States for weak or absent controls and the Commission for not enforcing them.

“It is disheartening to see that rather than reacting to the report by tightening the screws to ensure legislation is respected, some Member States are actually asking to further weaken the already extremely feeble safeguards that are in place” commented Ariel Brunner, Senior Agriculture Policy Officer at BirdLife International European Division.

BirdLife’s comments on the CAP simplification proposals are available in the attachment.


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