Commissioner Hogan outlines his plans to cut ‘red tape’

The EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan has outlined how he plans to simplify rules and cut ‘red tape’ in his portfolio.

‘Red tape’ he said, entails direct costs for farmers and operators, and can interfere with their business decisions. Simpler rules will make for greater competitiveness and will enhance the job-creating potential of agriculture, of rural areas and of agricultural trade.

“This is why I have committed to deliver within a year of my mandate. We need to simplify our rules now and cut red tape in an effective way. We should be pragmatic and flexible in our approach. Simplification does not come as a ‘big bang’ and will not be achieved at a given point in time.

“It should rather consist of a constant flow of smaller and larger actions aimed at making the lives of farmers and other operators easier. We should implement these actions wherever it is possible and as soon as it is possible, to avoid losing precious time for our agricultural sector to become more competitive and more profitable.”

He also said that any such action should be guided by the following principles.

“First, since our centre of attention is farmers and rural communities, we need to avoid changing the rules too often, and in particular before they have been applied at all.
We need to ensure stability for beneficiaries and national authorities, which in itself is a contribution to simplification and a reduction of the administrative burden. Our simplification actions should thus concentrate on those elements which can be changed within the current policy framework. Farmers need predictability.

“Second, all the institutions need to participate in this exercise. We all have to engage with national and regional authorities and, above all, with farmers, other beneficiaries and stakeholders. They are best placed to assess and judge the implementation of the CAP measures on the ground. We must listen to their experience and suggestions for simplification.”

He also said that while awaiting the results of the screening exercise and the ideas coming from you and from the Member States, he can already see four important areas where our rules can and should be simplified over the next months and years.

“I will make sure that any proposal that is on the table delivers in terms of simplification and, where possible, its simplification potential is reinforced in the legislative process.

“Secondly, more than 200 Commission regulations implementing the Common Market Organisation will be revised. This exercise has a significant simplification potential for operators in the agri-food sector, which we should exploit to the fullest extent possible.

“Thirdly, the new direct payments regime. I shall, of course, honour the previous Commission’s commitment to review, after the first year of application, the rules on the Ecological Focus Area.

“Fourthly, I want to take a close look at the rules for Geographical Indications. Geographical indications help food producers make more money and keep jobs in the countryside. I want this success to continue and grow; and I want to be sure that the rules we have in place are as effective and simple as possible.”

He said he is confident that when we put all our efforts together we will be able to make a real difference for farmers and other beneficiaries and, at the same time, significantly reduce administrative burden for Member States.