Agriculture and Public Expenditure departments in negotiations over EU fine

Having had its €181m EU fine over land eligibility reduced to €67m the Department of Agriculture is now in negotiations with Department of Public Expenditure over how the money will be paid.

In May 2014, the Commission proposed a 2% flat rate financial correction for Ireland of €181.5m arising from its Conformity Clearance audits in 2009, 2010 and 2012.

The payments audited covered the period from 2008 to 2012 during which over €9 billion was paid to farmers in Ireland under the Direct Payment Schemes.

Following lengthy negotiations with the European Commission, the Department of Agriculture was successful in arguing that proposed correction as disproportionate to the seriousness issues over Ireland’s LPIS system.

Responding to questions at a hearing of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine this week the Minister for Agriculture confirmed that his Department was now in negotiations with the Department of Public Expenditure as to how the reduced fine will be paid.

Concerns had been raised that the fine may effect on some of the Departments

He said that it was his intention where possible to ensure that the fine does not impinge on any other spending programmes in his department and that the fine would be treated separately.

“Negotiations are on-going as to how the money will be repaid. Whether that is by farmer contribution or whether some or all of it will be paid by the state.

“We hope to have a decision on this before the end of the year.

“We will do everything we can to get as farmer friendly solution as possible,” he said.

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