The European Commission has today published proposals to provide transitional arrangements in 2014 for certain Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) rules, notably the system of Direct Payments.
Although the Commission is working intensively with the European Parliament and the Council to reach a political agreement on CAP reform – and remains optimistic that this can be concluded before the end of June – so that the new legal regulations can be in place from January 1, 2014, it is not realistic for Member States to have all the necessary administrative procedures in place by the start of next year.
In order to ensure continuity, transitional rules are therefore required for some elements of policy, most obviously for the system of Direct Payments. This would mean that the existing rules of the Single Payment Scheme, the SAPS system and payments targeted under "Article 68" will continue in the 2014 claim year.
New rules, for example those relating to Greening, would therefore not apply until the start of 2015, thereby allowing Paying Agencies more time to prepare for these changes.
For Rural Development, it is standard practice to define transitional rules in order to bridge the gap between two multi-annual programming periods. However, there is also a need for some specific transitional arrangements, notably to deal with the implications from the delay in the new direct payment regime.
The proposals also cover new transitional rules for Croatia.
Today’s proposals also seek to incorporate the financial impact of the European Council conclusions of 8 February, still subject to agreement of the European Parliament. This would mean that the process of moving towards a fairer distribution of funds for direct payments among Member States – what is often called "external convergence" – will already apply in the 2014 claim year.
Commenting on the new proposals, EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloș said: "The motto for Direct Payments in 2014 will be 'existing rules, new budget', because it is important that Paying Agencies have time to get administrative arrangements in place and guarantee the proper management of EU funds, and farmers are clear on the new rules and not pushed into something new before it's ready."