NFU president Peter Kendall said the Court’s report reiterated many of the concerns the NFU has held since the CAP reform process began.
He said: “The Court criticises the European Commission for the complexity of its reform proposals, going so far as to say that it doubts whether the some of the proposals can be implemented effectively without excessive burden on farmers.”
“The Court urges the Commission to go back to basics and consider the objectives of the CAP as laid out in the Treaty, which is ‘to increase agricultural productivity as well as increasing the individual earnings of persons engaged in agriculture’. These are wise words at a time when the need to increase food production is widely recognised.
“Now is not the time for setting aside land from production, or increasing the costs and bureaucracy associated with CAP. The final shape of the next CAP will be determined jointly by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. I urge all the decision makers involved to take heed of the Court’s recommendations and particularly consider how the next CAP can be implemented in a way in which we can move forward to a place where farmers’ reliance on public support payments can be reduced.”
The report said the the complexity of cross compliance would make it difficult for paying agencies and beneficiaries to administer, despite the proposed reorganisation. It also said that policy remains fundamentally focussed on spending and controlling expenditure rather than results, and is oriented more towards compliance than performance. It also doubted whether some of these proposed measures can be implemented effectively without imposing an excessive administrative burden on national managing agencies and on farmers.
The Court’s report recommended other areas for simplification such as cross compliance and penalties. It said that the ‘greening’ objectives were not adequately laid down and that the ‘active farmer’ test will do very little, resulting in payments continuing to beneficiaries who do not exercise any agricultural activity. It also stated that there is confusion around the requirement to have activated entitlements in 2011 and highlights the overlap between different support schemes in different parts of the CAP.