CAP Simplification Success But More Still To Do

18 March 2009
Alyn Smith MEP, Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee, has today welcomed some success in simplifying the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) but has stressed that there is still much more to be done, and that the Commission should be wary of too much self praise.

In October 2005, the Commission pledged to reduce the administrative burden in agriculture by 25 percent by 2012. Today's communication shows that this target is well on its way to being met, although Smith remains concerned that while the EU end of agricultural support might be getting simpler, this in fact just makes the implementation end - the end farmer shave to deal with - more complex.

Over the last few years, the Commission has repealed hundreds of obsolete acts, introduced reforms to streamline the CAP, and improved law-making practices and IT systems.

Next on the agenda are plans to simplify and harmonise communications relating to the CAP, as well as addressing the readability and accessibility of legal texts and continuing the exchange of best practice among member states.

Speaking from Brussels, Mr Smith said:

"The Commission has accomplished a great deal since 2005 and should be commended for its work so far. The changes to the cross compliance rules in particular - something that I campaigned very hard on - has made a real difference, cutting the administrative burden on farms by up to 5.7million euros.

"There is no doubt that to have met 43 of the 50 measures with three years to spare is good news, yet I remain convinced that there is more to be done. For CAP as it stands to be called 'simple' is a stretch of anyone's imagination.

"As we get ever closer to wholesale reform of the CAP post 2013 we need to focus on the bigger picture. I continue to believe that full reform, done right, could see more effective support for farmers, alongside a more effective structural funds regime providing environmental public goods and fighting climate change, and with less of the bureaucracy that has come to be so closely associated with the CAP.

"Farmers are not interested in spending their days sitting inside wading through piles of paper work when they could be out on the farm and so any action the Commission takes to reduce this red tape burden will be welcomed by me."