The CAP is still complex despite the proposal for its reform

After the assessment of the Commissions’ legislative proposals for the reform of the Common agricultural policy as of 2014, the European Court of Auditors considers that the complexity of this policy continues to make it difficult for paying agencies and beneficiaries to administer, in spite of the proposed reorganisation.

The European Court of Auditors recognises the efforts made by the Commission to simplify the provisions of the CAP on the Commissions’ legislative proposals for the reform of the Common agricultural policy as of 2014 presented in October 2011, however, it also considers that the legislative framework of this policy remains too complex. Thus, it considers on its report that in stead of focusing on results, the policy remains fundamentally focussed on spending and controlling expenditure and therefore oriented more towards compliance than performance. In addition to this, it highlights that the objectives and qualitative and quantitative results that are expected of the implementation of cross compliance obligations as well as of the ‘greening’ component of direct payments are not adequately laid down. The disclosure of such objectives would help focus the policy on delivering the desired results.

With regard to the Commission’s intention to direct CAP payments to “active farmers”, the Court has doubts as to whether some of these proposed measures can be implemented effectively without imposing an excessive administrative burden on national managing agencies and on farmers. It therefore suggests adopting a general and simple definition of what constitutes an “active farmer” and to entrust the Commission with the task of managing the implementation of the resulting legislation with a view to reaching the high level objectives set out in the Treaty.

On the other hand, the Court also underlines that the effectiveness of the reform shall also rest on the clarity of the “implementing regulations”. According to the Court, the draft provisions dealing with “withdrawals”, “reductions” and “exclusion” of payments in the Member States are confusing both in their wording and their scope. Furthermore, regarding the payment entitlements which be available to new farmers (in particular young farmers who commence their agricultural activity) in 2014, the Court is concerned is that such availability will no longer be guaranteed in subsequent years.