30 July 1997
UK charged for lax sheep subsidy control
By Amanda Cheesley in Brussels
THE UK government has been charged 14.5 million in Brussels today for its inadequate ewe premium controls.
The massive bill follows talks between the UK authorities and the European Commission over the 1993 clearance of accounts under the conciliation procedure. The commission has charged the UK government 14.5 million for inadequate on-farm inspections for ewe premium claims.
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 and not the additional 10.
The Commission argues that the UK carried out too few inspections and half of them took place outside the retention period. UK authorities also failed to prevent a number of 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 in 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.