Simplification measures of penalty system in the case of incorrect declarations for direct payments were presented by the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Mr. Phil Hogan in Strasbourg. Mr. Hogan listed the latest measures which would “eliminate the climate of fear” prevailing with the current penalty point system. According to him the simplification package consists of three complementary elements a) preliminary checks of aid applications b) simplified system of administrative penalties for direct payments c) a ”yellow card” system for first offenders.
After making a reference to the measures taken in the previous year (2015) to simplify the CAP, Mr. Hogan referred to the promoted changes on the penalty system. Commenting on the proposed changes, he said: “This simplification package should be a strong response to negative comments about the direct payments of the CAP, which should be as much as possible fair”.
Subsequently Mr. Hogan analyzed one by one the promoted changes and stated:
For the preliminary checks: “… during a period of up to 35 days after the final date of submission without any penalties. Let me stress the importance of these changes. They will have a direct effect on farmers, sending a clear message that our interest is not to catch farmers out as it were, but ensure that public money is well spent. Farmers, I know, fully support that goal”.
For the simplification of the penalty system: “… With the new CAP, farmers feel themselves faced with new and complex rules and consequently they worry that unintentional mistakes might lead to the application of penalties and thus the loss of part of their income support. In recognition of this understandable concern, I have decided that the current system should be improved by making it more proportionate and understandable.
Moreover, with the improved technology concerning area measurement which is nowadays broadly available for farmers together with the provided pre-established information by the administration and the introduction of the preliminary checks the correct declaration of areas by farmers is better ensured… Whereas the current system for the calculation of penalties is based on different categories that can result in penalties of sometime more than double that which is over-declared, I have replaced the different categories by a simple penalty, which is 1.5 times the area over-declared. This reduced level of penalties will apply from 2016. Small “over-declarations” that are up to 3 per cent of the area declared or 2 hectares will continue not to be penalised”.
For the yellow card system: “In addition to this simplified and more proportionate system of administrative penalties I will also introduce a system of “yellow cards.” For a first offender, where the over-declaration is minor (below 10 per cent of the area declared) the administrative penalty will be reduced by 50 per cent. Farmers having received a yellow card will be registered and where appropriate will be subject to an on-the-spot control inspection the following year”.