European farm leaders have agreed to simplify the Common Agricultural Policy in a bid to make farmers’ lives easier.

The European Parliament voted through proposals to cut red tape in payment applications and simplify rules on electronic identification of animals.

The draft resolution also set out plans to provide better information to farmers across the EU through the introduction of a helpdesk phoneline in each member state.

The proposals are part of a wider debate on how to reform EU farm policy ahead of the next round of budgets being set in 2013.

Conservative MEP Richard Ashworth, who proposed the resolution, said he wanted CAP policy to be driven at farm level, rather then through burdensome regulation and bureaucracy.

His resolution paper sets out several ways to make things easier for Europe’s farmers, including making fines for errors in payment claims more proportionate and transparent.

There should be no need to supply the same information about land each year, while rules on cross compliance should be simplified, the paper adds.

Speaking after the Parliament’s vote in Strasbourg on Tuesday (18 May), Mr Ashworth said the resolution was the first step towards creating a CAP that could help farmers meet future challenges.

“Food security, market volatility and climate change are among the problems the CAP is facing and fundamental reform must be matched with a change in the way we apply the CAP,” he said.

“A reformed CAP will have to demonstrate it can help industry adapt to these new challenges by changing its culture to one of greater flexibility, a ‘lighter touch’ approach and better consultation with stakeholders to assess the impact of legislation.”