With pandemic restrictions still in place across the EU, the European Commission has adopted rules to extend flexibilities for carrying out checks required for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding.

The rules allow the replacement of on-farm visits with the use of alternative sources of evidence, including new technologies such as satellite imagery or geotagged photos.

This will ensure reliable checks while respecting the restriction of movement and minimising physical contact between farmers and inspectors.

The rules include flexibility around timing requirements for checks. This allows member states to postpone checks, notably to a period when movement restrictions are lifted.

In addition, the rules comprise a reduction of the number of physical on-the-spot checks to be carried out for area and animal-related measures, rural development investments and market measures.

Monitoring of CAP funding

All EU expenditure under the CAP is subject to a declaration of assurance from the Director-General for Agriculture and Rural Development.

This declaration states that:

  • the expenditure has been used for its intended purpose;
  • the expenditure has complied with the principles of sound financial management.

By issuing this declaration, the Director-General confirms the existence and functioning of control procedures to ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent in the ways laid out by law.

The system is designed to ensure that funds are spent properly across all levels of implementation and that irregular payments can be detected and recovered.

CAP payments in member states

The expenditure of the European agricultural guarantee fund (EAGF) and European agricultural fund for rural development (EAFRD) is implemented under shared management between the European Commission and EU countries.

The commission, in the majority of cases, does not make payments directly to beneficiaries of the CAP.

According to the principle of shared management, EU countries execute payments to farmers through national or regional paying agencies.

The paying agencies must be accredited on the basis of a set of criteria laid down by the commission, before they can claim any expenditure from the EU budget.

A rigorous system of checks ensures that funds are delivered only to the intended beneficiaries and in the correct amounts, and EU countries must have adequate systems in place to protect against incorrect payments or fraud.

The EU also mandates the use of the single integrated administration and control system (IACS), including the land parcel identification system (LPIS), to check claims and track payments.