Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dual blast on CAP from Court of Auditors

The Court of Auditors has delivered a dual blast at the CAP. The first report considers the £2.5bn of spending a year on agri-environmental schemes. It argues that poor design makes it difficult to assess the extent to which agri-environmental schemes achieve their goals: Agri-environmental

The Court found that objectives set by the member states were numerous and not specific enough for assessing whether or not they have been achieved. Although the environmental pressures are identified in rural development programmes, they cannot be easily used to provide a clear justification of agri-environmental payments.

There were considerable problems about the relevance and reliability of management information. In particular, very little information was available on the environmental benefits of agri-environmental payments.

The report is significant given the declared intention to 'green' the CAP in the next stage of reform.

In a report just released the Court has criticised the mechanism used by the European Commission to recover undue payments made under the EU's €55 billion-a-year Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): Recovery

The ECA found that 90 per cent of the amounts listed as recoveries in the EU's annual accounts represented reimbursements from national budgets rather than actual recoveries from CAP beneficiaries. Its report says that while this approach protects the financial interests of the EU, it diminishes the deterrent effect of recovery from beneficiaries.

Following an earlier report in 2004, changes implemented in 2006 had improved matters by providing more accurate information and greater detail on debts and recoveries at member state level. However, the system had certain shortcomings such as running the risk of encouraging the write-off of debt as early possible or reporting debt as late as possible.

There were also, not surprisingly, variations in the conduct of member states. This meant that debts were recognised at different times, reported figures were not comparable, interest was applied inconsistently and the point in time at which debts could be witten off varied significantly. All of this had a negative financial impact on the EU budget.

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