BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — A total of €180 million of E.U. agricultural policy funds, unduly spent by member states, is being claimed back by the European Commission on Aug. 13 under the so-called clearance of accounts procedure.
However, because some of these amounts have already been recovered from the member states the financial impact of the decision will be some €169 million. This money returns to the E.U. budget because of non-compliance with E.U. rules or inadequate control procedures on agricultural expenditure. Member states are responsible for paying out and checking expenditure under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the Commission is required to ensure that member states have made correct use of the funds.
Under this latest decision, funds will be recovered from 15 member states: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Finland and the United Kingdom. The most significant individual corrections are:
• €40.4 million charged to U.K. for weaknesses related to the Land Parcel Identification System – Geographical Information System (LPIS-GIS), to the on-the-spot checks and to the payments and sanctions in Scotland.
• €39.2 million (financial impact: €30.4 million) charged to Poland for weaknesses related to the LPIS-GIS, administrative cross-checks, payments, application of sanctions, retro-active recoveries and the lateness of on-the-spot checks.
• €18.6 million (financial impact: €16.6 million) charged to U.K. for deficiencies in the allocation of entitlements.
• €11.5 million charged to Denmark for deficiencies in the LPIS and in the on-the-spot controls.
Member states are responsible for managing most CAP payments, mainly via their paying agencies. They are also in charge of controls, for example verifying the farmer's claims for direct payments. The Commission carries out over 100 audits every year, verifying that member state controls and responses to shortcomings are sufficient, and has the power to claw back funds in arrears if the audits show that member state management and control is not good enough to guarantee that E.U. funds have been spent properly.