Background information on delegated acts in relation with the CAP reform
In order to fully implement the political agreement on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy reached in June and September by the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission, the European Commission services are currently drafting delegated acts. The delegated acts aim at supplementing non-essential elements of the basic acts covered by the political agreement.
In order to take into account at a very early stage the position of the co-legislators and to ease the formal adoption next year, a very intensive dialogue is taking place on draft regulations before the formal adoption of the regulations by the European Commission. Since September at least 9 days of expert group meetings have already focused on Direct Payments delegated acts, 7 on the delegated acts concerning rural development, 8 on the Horizontal issues and 4 on the Single CMO. Each meeting comprises representatives of Member States and of the European Parliament, in discussion with the Commission services.
The objective of this working method is that each topic is discussed several times before a revised version of each text is prepared and further discussed. In the coming days, the European Commission will come forward with revised versions of the draft documents, taking into account the results of the first rounds of discussions. In this process, Member States and representatives of the European Parliament have been invited to comment on the text submitted during the meetings. Their comments and remarks will facilitate a fast adoption of the legal texts by the Commission.
A new round of discussion will be organized in the coming weeks once the new versions of the texts are ready (more than 300 pages of regulations).
Once the discussions within expert groups are complete, the delegated acts will be translated, put through an Inter Service Consultation (within the Commission) and ultimately adopted by the College of the European Commission via a written procedure. Once adopted by the European Commission, the delegated acts are transmitted to the European Parliament and to the Council which have the right to objection within 2 months – this period can be extended by 2 additional months.
The Commission's objective is to transmit the texts as early as possible to the European Parliament and to the Council so that the European Parliament can start scrutinising the texts before the start of the recess period in March 2014. In this case the objection period will end mid-May 2014 (or mid-July if the period is extended),. and if neither the European Parliament, nor the Council express objections, the delegated acts can enter into force immediately thereafter.
Subjects covered by the delegated acts
- Scope and definitions; active farmer Basic Payment Scheme; eligibility of areas; greening (diversification, Perm. Grassland, Ecol. Focus Area & certification, equivalence); young farmers; Voluntary Coupled Support; cotton; notifications.
Single Common Market Organisation:
- Fruit and vegetables (new provisions on grubbing-up of orchards for plant health reasons and on the management of programmes by APOs);
- Fruit and vegetables (new provisions on the entry price system);
- School fruit scheme (new provisions on accompanying measures eligible for co-financing and the thresholds to be applied);
- Wine programmes (addition of new measure on innovation, amendment of measure on investment, amendment of measure on restructuring regarding grubbing-up of vineyards on plant health grounds;
- Amendment to measure on promotion to provide for activities on the EU market; private storage (introduction of new provisions for SMP, PDO/PGI cheese, butter and fibre flax).
- Definition of young farmers, arrangements for farm and forestry visit, quality schemes and promotion, content of the business plan under investment measures, afforestation, rules for commitments and activities under agri-environment-climate measure;
- Conservation of genetic resources – both in agriculture and forestry; rules to avoid double financing; scope for animal welfare commitments; rules for support under cooperation, duration of commercial loans contracted to mutual funds;
- Common rules for investment measures and energy efficiency infrastructure, definition of conditions applicable to conversion or adjustment of commitments under area related measures, and transitional rules from 2007-2013 to 2014-2020 period which are not covered by the ad-hoc basic act.
- Paying agencies, financial management, clearance of accounts, securities
- Public intervention expenditure
- Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS), penalties (non-IACS, cross compliance)
Example of delegated acts
On young farmers: the idea of the delegated act is to make sure that the mandatory 1st pillar top-up goes effectively to active young farmers running a farm. It is necessary to clarify the rules applied to the farms controlled by a group of persons in order to make sure that these groups are effectively complying with the definition of a young farmer to avoid unjustified windfall profit for non-young farmers.
On the prevention of double funding: the political agreement reinforced the rule of avoiding a repetition of the same measure via 1st pillar greening payments and 2nd pillar payments. The principle on non-double funding has been included in provisions concerning the 2nd pillar support for agri-environment-climate, Natura 2000 and Water Framework Directive payments measures. It is also explicitly included in the rules for of organic farming. The rules within the delegated act for rural development clearly define how the support under the above-mentioned measures has to be calculated in order to respect the non-double funding.
These supplementary rules must not only take into account the characteristics of the measures concerned, but they must also remain practical and simple for implementation by Member State administrations and avoid unnecessary administrative burden and possible errors.
Organic farmers automatically comply with greening requirements as they are seen as "green by definition". Organic farming commitments are often very much different in their technical nature compared to the greening practices. However, in order to treat organic farmers the same as others, there must also be non-double funding rules for the organic sector.
On permanent grassland (greening):the political agreement provides for a possibility for Member States to designate environmentally sensitive permanent grasslands outside Natura 2000. The delegated act should provide the framework with a set of criteria that Member States can apply for this designation. In addition, the political agreement sets an obligation for Member States to ensure that the ratio of permanent grassland to the total agricultural area does not decrease by more than 5% compared to a reference ratio. The delegated act should clarify the method for determining the ratio of permanent grassland and the reference ratio, as well as the detailed rules for obligations at farm level for maintaining permanent grassland.