BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – Additional measures to simplify the E.U.’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were included in the omnibus regulation published by the European Commission on Sept. 14.
Four waves of simplification measures have been introduced over the past year, including extending deadlines for submitting aid applications; guideline changes related to ecological focus areas, land parcel identification and aid applications; and a comprehensive review of direct payments.
The most recent measures proposed are aimed at further simplifying the policy with a view to easing the burden on and making life easier for both farmers and national authorities. While many of the measures proposed are quite technical in nature, a number are more significant in nature and should have a more significant impact on the simplification of the CAP.
“The proposal made today is further evidence of my commitment and that of the Commission to simplify the application of rules across a range of areas,” said Commissioner Phil Hogan. “In terms of the Common Agricultural Policy, the changes proposed are all important and, taken with the previous simplification actions, will remove a number of key bottlenecks and make a considerable difference in the implementation of the policy, particularly to the benefit of farmers.
“I have been and I remain focused on the simplification of the CAP and I am particularly pleased that a number of the changes proposed today, notably in relation to the Income Stabilization Tool, access to financial instruments and the application of the active farmer clause, respond directly to the concerns of farmers that I have been hearing consistently since my appointment and throughout my visits to member states."
In particular, changes are proposed to Rural Development Regulation to provide for a sector specific Income Stabilization Tool. This will give member states the possibility to design a tool tailored for a specific sector, which it is intended will make it more attractive for both farmers and administrations. The proposal also responds to the need to provide better means to support farmers in times of market crisis and reflects recent difficult experiences in a number of sectors.
A further substantial change has been proposed to the RD Regulation to introduce simpler rules for accessing loans and other financial instruments. These changes are intended to give the necessary boost to make better use of financial instruments in the agricultural sector and providing greater access to capital for farmers, in particular young farmers for whom access to credit is an ongoing problem. The overall aim is to ensure the better targeting of public money and to increase the competitiveness of the farming sector.
In the Direct Payments Regulation, the Commission is proposing to allow member states greater discretion in the application of the definition of an “active farmer.” In effect, member states will be able to decide whether or not they wish to continue applying the existing definition of “active farmer.” If applied, the system will become considerably less burdensome and will substantially ease the paperwork for both farmers and national/regional administrations.
The proposals are part of the review package of the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF). The proposals require the full co-decision with the Council and the European Parliament, and can be in force by the start of 2018.