19 December 2000
EU plans to cut red tape

By FWi staff

BRUSSELS has proposed a new initiative to minimise form-filling and cut red tape for half a million farmers across Europe.

Under the EU Commission plan, producers who receive less than Euro1000 (607 on 19 December) direct aid can opt for a simplified scheme.

Farm commissioner Franz Fischler said: “Form-filling will be a one-off event for small farmers, instead of yearly claims for every type of premium.

“We want to allow farmers to get on with the business of farming.”

British farmers have long complained that ever-increasing paperwork is becoming an intolerable burden.

Mr Fischler insisted the simpler system would not weaken control systems intended to protect taxpayers money.

The scheme should also minimise administration for national authorities responsible for paying and controlling aids, says the commission.

To be eligible, farmers must have received direct aid during a three-year reference period. It is estimated this will apply to 500,000 farmers – 20% of the EU total.

Greece, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and Portugal stand to benefit most.

In arable, the scheme should cover area payments of arable crops and area aid to grain, legumes and rice.

In livestock, it should cover the special premium and the suckler cow premium in the beef and veal sector, as well as the ewe premium, including the supplement for less-favoured areas.

The proposal will now submitted to the Council for decision. If successful, it would be adopted on a trial period from 2002-2005.