Britain told to repay farm subsidies
By Johann Tasker
BRITAIN has been ordered to repay about 11.7 million in misspent subsidies paid to farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The amount is Britains share of an estimated 210m that the European Commission is demanding from 12 of the 15 European Union countries.
Under the decision, Brussels is set to recover funds from governments in all the member states other than Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden.
A commission statement said Westminster had inadequately checked arable payments and failed to comply with EU rules regarding flax and hemp production.
About 8.4m of the money must be repaid because British farmers planted a variety of flax not approved under the relevant European legislation, it added.
A further 3m must be repaid because of inadequately supervised spot-checks. on arable crops. Hemp harvested earlier than permitted led to a 300,000 demand.
Individual EU countries are responsible for checking virtually all of their CAP expenditure. But Brussels retains the right to reclaim wrongly spent money.
European farm commissioner Franz Fischler, said the repayment system was a strong incentive for countries to reduce the amount of misspent money.
Ireland faces repayments of about 8 million because Dublin has failed to implement adequate spot checks on the use of arable crop payments.
Commission officials carry out over 150 inspections each year, using sophisticated satellite photography techniques to cross-track subsidy claims.
Nearly 400 million in EU farm subsidies has now been reclaimed this year.