"Health Check" of the Common Agricultural Policy
The Health Check will modernise, simplify and streamline the CAP and
remove restrictions on farmers, thus helping them to respond better
to signals from the market and to face new challenges.
On 20 November 2008 the EU agriculture ministers reached a
political agreement on the Health Check of the Common
Among a range of measures, the agreement abolishes arable
set-aside, increases milk quotas gradually leading up to their
abolition in 2015, and converts market intervention into a
genuine safety net. Ministers also agreed to increase
modulation, whereby direct payments to farmers are reduced and
the money transferred to the Rural Development Fund. This will
allow a better response to the new challenges and opportunities
faced by European agriculture, including climate change, the
need for better water management, the protection of
biodiversity, and the production of green energy. Member States
will also be able to assist dairy farmers in sensitive regions
adjust to the new market situation.
Council Regulations related to the CAP "Health Check" available
The measures in a nutshell
The following text is available in
Phasing out milk quotas: As milk quotas will expire by
April 2015 a 'soft landing' is ensured by increasing quotas by
one percent every year between 2009/10 and 2013/14. For Italy,
the 5 percent increase will be introduced immediately in
2009/10. In 2009/10 and 2010/11, farmers who exceed their milk
quotas by more than 6 percent will have to pay a levy 50 percent
higher than the normal penalty.
Decoupling of support: The CAP reform "decoupled" direct
aid to farmers i.e. payments were no longer linked to the
production of a specific product. However, some Member States
chose to maintain some "coupled" – i.e. production-linked -
payments. These remaining coupled payments will now be decoupled
and moved into the Single Payment Scheme (SPS), with the
exception of suckler cow, goat and sheep premia, where Member
States may maintain current levels of coupled support.
Assistance to sectors with special problems (so-called
'Article 68' measures): Currently, Member States may retain
by sector 10 percent of their national budget ceilings for
direct payments for use for environmental measures or improving
the quality and marketing of products in that sector. This
possibility will become more flexible. The money will no longer
have to be used in the same sector; it may be used to help
farmers producing milk, beef, goat and sheep meat and rice in
disadvantaged regions or vulnerable types of farming; it may
also be used to support risk management measures such as
insurance schemes for natural disasters and mutual funds for
animal diseases; and countries operating the Single Area Payment
Scheme (SAPS) system will become eligible for the scheme.
Extending SAPS: EU members applying the simplified Single
Area Payment Scheme will be allowed to continue to do so until
2013 instead of being forced into the Single Payment Scheme by
Additional funding for EU-12 farmers: €90 million will be
allocated to the EU-12 to make it easier for them to make use of
Article 68 until direct payments to their farmers have been
fully phased in.
Using currently unspent money: Member States applying the
Single Payment Scheme will be allowed either to use currently
unused money from their national envelope for Article 68
measures or to transfer it into the Rural Development Fund.
Shifting money from direct aid to Rural Development:
Currently, all farmers receiving more than €5,000 in direct aid
have their payments reduced by 5 percent and the money is
transferred into the Rural Development budget. This rate will be
increased to 10 percent by 2012. An additional cut of 4 percent
will be made on payments above €300,000 a year. The funding
obtained this way may be used by Member States to reinforce
programmes in the fields of climate change, renewable energy,
water management, biodiversity, innovation linked to the
previous four points and for accompanying measures in the dairy
sector. This transferred money will be co-financed by the EU at
a rate of 75 percent and 90 percent in convergence regions where
average GDP is lower.
Investment aid for young farmers: Investment aid for
young farmers under Rural Development will be increased from
€55,000 to €70,000.
Abolition of set-aside: The requirement for arable
farmers to leave 10 percent of their land fallow is abolished.
This will allow them to maximise their production potential.
Cross Compliance: Aid to farmers is linked to the respect
of environmental, animal welfare and food quality standards.
Farmers who do not respect the rules face cuts in their support.
This so-called Cross Compliance will be simplified, by
withdrawing standards that are not relevant or linked to farmer
responsibility. New requirements will be added to retain the
environmental benefits of set-aside and improve water
Intervention mechanisms: Market supply measures should
not slow farmers' ability to respond to market signals.
Intervention will be abolished for pig meat and set at zero for
barley and sorghum. For wheat, intervention purchases will be
possible during the intervention period at the price of
€101.31/tonne up to 3 million tonnes. Beyond that, it will be
done by tender. For butter and skimmed milk powder, limits will
be 30,000 tonnes and 109,000 tonnes respectively, beyond which
intervention will be by tender.
Other measures: A series of small support schemes will be
decoupled and shifted to the SPS from 2012. The energy crop
premium will be abolished.
"Health Check of the CAP: current situation,
Commission proposal and Council outcome"
"Overview of the CAP Health Check and the European
Recovery Plan -
Modification of the RDPs - Some facts and