BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — The European Commission published on March 22 its annual report on the global distribution of direct payments by member states, with final data for 2011.

The report shows that direct payments are still not equally distributed among beneficiaries in member states: on average, 80% of beneficiaries receive around 20% of payments (however with important differences between member states).

This figure has been a feature of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) support for many years, which the Commission is seeking to address in its reform concept.

The Commission's 2011 CAP reform proposals aim at a fairer distribution of direct payments between E.U. member states and between farmers, through the concepts of external and internal convergence, but also through proposals for a degressivity of payments from €150,000 onwards and capping at €300,000, all strongly supported by European citizens.

Direct payments in 2011 amounted to €40.2 billion, approximately 72% of the support provided to farmers by the CAP. This represents a 1.3 % increase as compared to 2010, due to the continued phasing-in of direct payments in new member states.

The report also confirms that 92% of these payments are now "decoupled,” which means that they are not linked to what and how much individual farmers produce. This reflects the evolution of farm support over time, from mainly price support measures in the 1970s and 1980s to the proposed combination of direct income support and a payment for sustainable farming practices.

The report includes detailed analyses of direct payments and farm structure per country and groups of countries. It is available at