Discussions continue on EU’s €181m Irish land eligibility fine

Discussions are continuing in Europe over the European Commission’s decision to fine Ireland €181m over land eligibility irregularities.

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.

Department of Agriculture strongly refuted the application of this proposed correction as disproportionate to the true level of risk involved and accordingly sought a hearing with the Conciliation Body.

The Conciliation Body met with the Commission and officials from my Department separately in December 2014. The Commission held their position on the 2% flat rate correction before and during their meeting.

The report of the Conciliation Body concluded that conciliation seemed within reach and that the Commission and my Department should continue to work together towards an agreed settlement.

The Minister for Agriculture My Department has maintained regular contact with the Commission and has completed further work to quantify the level of risk to EU funds.

This work was the subject of the Commission visit to Ireland during the third week of May 2014. Contact with the Commission is continuing on this issue.