31 July 1997
Lax sheep subsidy control costs UK £14.5m
By Amanda Cheesley in Brussels
THE UK government has been charged a whopping £14.5 million in Brussels today for its inadequate ewe premium controls.
The massive bill is for inadequate on-farm inspections for ewe premium claims. It follows talks between the UK authorities and the EU Commission over the 1993 clearance of accounts under the conciliation procedure.
Ewe premiums are EU subsidies payable to farmers holding sheep quota. Those without quota are ineligible for the premium. For example, if a farmer had 110 sheep, but only had quota for 100 sheep, he could only claim a premium on the first 100 sheep.
The commission argues that the UK carried out too few inspections, and that half of them took place outside the retention period. UK authorities also failed to identify some farmers claiming twice for the same animal because it had a policy of two claiming periods, the commission said.
Under the same decision, Spain, France and Italy were charged an extra £59.7 million for inadequate controls on olive oil, dried fodder, cereals and beef. The move comes on top of the £362 million charged to member states under the 1993 clearance of accounts in April.