The "greening" payment concept introduced in the 2013 CAP reform has the potential to deliver environmental and climate benefits on a large share of EU farmland, including areas not covered by rural development measures, according to the European Commission's review of how greening has been implemented in the first year. However, the true impact of greening, in terms of effectiveness and efficiency in achieving environmental and climate outputs, is difficult to assess after only one year of implementation. The report also takes into account a public consultation on the greening measures, with more than 3 300 responses (primarily from farmers).
Commenting on the publication of this Commission Staff Working Document, EU Commissioner Phil Hogan stated: "The analysis of implementation shows that greening is working, but can be improved to work better and deliver more. Above all, this report confirms my expectation that there is a need for simplification of the rules. In this respect, I have asked my services to come forward with a range of simplification proposals for steps that can be taken quickly and potentially be in place for payment claims next year. This will not pre-empt a broader evaluation of the environmental impact of the scheme scheduled for the end of 2017."
Most of the agricultural area in the EU (72%) is subject to at least one greening obligation (Ecological Focus Area (EFA), crop diversification, and the maintenance of permanent grassland), the report confirms. For example, at EU level, 75% of the total arable land is subject to the crop diversification requirement. Almost 70% of the total arable land in the EU is subject to EFA, with 14% of arable land declared as EFA (9% weighted area). The figures suggest that most farmers have chosen to fulfil their EFA obligations by declaring productive EFAs (nitrogen-fixing crops, fallow land and catch crops) rather than landscape features.
The annex (III) looking at the different ways in which the Member States have chosen to implement the greening measures concludes that there seems to be no significant impact on the level playing field in the EU. However, there are some cases in which farmers face different rules - for example on the use of pesticides and fertilisers on some productive EFAs.
The annex (IV) looking at the potential impact of greening on production levels shows that there has only been a limited effect on production in the first year, with the medium-term impact on production levels and market developments estimated as not significant.