On 8 April, Members of the Agriculture Committee concluded a series of votes on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package with the third and final vote on the so-called Horizontal Regulation, focussing on financing, management and monitoring. The text pushes for a significant reduction of bureaucracy and for a more efficient distribution of tasks between the EU and its member states by shifting from a system based on checking that beneficiaries comply with detailed rules to a new performance-based system. In the future, the Commission will set goals. How, for example through which targeted measures, member states achieve these goals will be the responsibility of the respective member states.
Rapporteur Ulrike Müller said today:
“I have drafted my report based on two objectives – simplifying administration and making institutions more transparent. The report adopted today delivers on both of these objectives, for the benefit of member states, farmers and citizens alike.”
Her report demands that member states should report their achievements to the Commission once every two years, not every year as proposed by the Commission, in order to avoid overburdening national administrations and farmers. However, if national control systems are seriously deficient, the Commission should carry out risk-based on-the-spot checks.
Ulrike Müller: “We need the greatest transparency possible and a real simplification of administrative procedures. The ‘single audit approach’ is a good way forward in order to cut red tape for farmers. However, what is also important to me is that in the event of serious deficiencies in the control systems of a member state, the Commission can extend its controls to ensure that abuse and corruption have no chance.”
Moreover, the AGRI Committee demands that the agricultural crises reserve, to help farmers with price or market instability, should be financed from outside the CAP budget. Furthermore, the text foresees increasing penalties for reoccurring non-compliance with legal requirements, e.g. regarding animal welfare or food quality, and thus ensures a level-playing field between member states.
Ulrike Müller: “If beneficiaries repeatedly do not comply with EU rules, especially when it comes to sensitive issues such as animal welfare or food quality, we must be firm. Increasing penalties for reoccurring violations will help keep our food quality at the highest standards as well as ensuring a level-playing field among member states.”