New measures announced by the European Commission to simplify CAP including changes to the farm inspections regime should be brought forward as soon as possible, according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

The most recent exchange of views on simplification took place at the Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting on Monday, November 16.

At that meeting, Commissioner Hogan updated the Council on the current state of play and outlined his priorities and timeline for the simplification process.

The Commissioner announced a package of measures, including a reduction in the rate of on-the-spot inspections in certain circumstances, increased flexibility in respect of inspections under the integrated administration and control system, and proposed changes in relation to the amendment of Member States’ Rural Development Programmes.

Responding to questioning on the measures surrounding farm inspections this week, he said he very much welcomed the proposed changes including those to the inspections regime.

“They deal with many of the issues that I have consistently raised with the Commission in recent months.

“Of course, we will have to examine the details of all of these measures to ensure that any conditionalities attached are not too onerous.

“We will also continue to insist that the range of measures anticipated by the Commission is brought forward as soon as possible, including a more streamlined approach to the amendment of RDP programmes where relatively small-scale changes are envisaged,” he said.

Irish plans for CAP simplification

Minister Coveney also said this week that Ireland has been very active in calling for the simplification of the CAP to the maximum extent possible.

“We submitted a number of proposals to the Commission, with the focus on stability, certainty and subsidiarity in the implementation of CAP regulations.

“We also called for a sensible and simplified approach to the interpretation of legislative provisions, for example on equivalent greening measures, on the definition of catch crops and on the adjacency of landscape features and buffer strips to land parcels.

“We also identified a number of elements in the Commission delegated and implementing acts that needed to be simplified.

According to the Minister, these related largely to greening requirements and controls.

“In particular, we have drawn attention to the disproportionate impact on smaller farmers of the formula for deductions and sanctions in respect of over-declarations, and to the complicated formula for reductions and penalties in respect of breaches of greening requirements.

“We have also drawn attention to the need to streamline and simplify the approval process for rural development programmes,” he said.