15 May 1998

UK to refund its share of £200m to EU

ITALY, France and the UK head the list of countries having to pay back over £200m to Brussels for illegitimate payments under the common agricultural policy.

The monies relate to 1994 funding and follow an extensive programme of on-the-spot checks by the commission.

In the UK, some £31m is being recouped from government as a result of insufficient inspections of ewe numbers during the retention period for the sheep annual premium scheme. "Further fines are anticipated for 1995, though the system is now functioning properly," said a Meat and Livestock Commission spokes-woman.

Not be passed back

The money will be recouped from the Treasury and will not be passed back to producers.

Top of the EU blacklist is Italy, which is having to pay back £66m, principally for lack of controls over export refunds and public storage. France is also being penalised to the tune of £52m, for slow collection of milk superlevy, insufficient checks on export refunds and a failure to deduct aid cash for insufficient set-aside.

&#8226 IACS applications submitted in 1998 will once again be liable for checks by satellites, in addition to traditional field inspections. Last year, satellite technology was instrumental in a number of prosecutions for inaccurate claims, leading to fines and disallowances.