George Eustice©Tim Scrivener/Rex

Defra says it will extend the deadline for Basic Payment applications – if Brussels gives the go-ahead.

Farm minister George Eustice said he welcomed indications that European farm commissioner Phil Hogan was likely to extend the deadline in the first year of claims.

See also: Brussels looks set to extend basic payment deadline

It follows widespread concern that thousands of farmers across Europe are likely to miss the 15 May deadline for applications to the new CAP payment scheme.

Mr Eustice said: “This would mean farmers have more time to submit their claim while we give them the support they need.”

Speaking at a farm council meeting earlier this week, Mr Hogan said he was willing to “look favourably” at the option of extending the 15 May deadline.

Although he didn’t say how long the deadline might be extended, it is thought farmers could be given at least until mid-June to submit applications.

Further clarification is expected in the coming days.

Ministers from a number of other European Union countries have also supported the possibility of an extension to the application deadline.

Mr Hogan said: “I am aware of concerns raised in some member states regarding the final date of aid application for direct payments.”

European commission officials were looking at the best way to address farmers’ concerns about the online application system, he added.

Mr Hogan said it was important that farmers didn’t “suffer the consequences” of delays as countries implemented the new scheme in its first year.

“For this reason, I am willing to look favourably at the option of a delay in the final date of submission of applications for direct aid as a possibility for all member states,” he said.