Building on Commissioner Hogan's commitment to simplify the Common Agricultural Policy and the four waves of simplification measures already introduced over the past year, a further series of measures have been included in the Omnibus Regulation published by the European Commission today.
The measures proposed today are aimed at further simplifying the policy with a view to easing the burden on and making life easier for both farmers and national authorities. While many of the measures proposed are quite technical in nature, a number are more significant in nature and should have a more significant impact on the simplification of the CAP.
In particular, changes are proposed to Rural Development Regulation to provide for a sector specific Income Stabilisation Tool. This will give MS the possibility to design a tool tailored for a specific sector, which it is intended will make it more attractive for both farmers and administrations. The proposal also responds to the need to provide better means to support farmers in times of market crisis and reflects recent difficult experiences in a number of sectors.
A further substantial change has been proposed to the RD Regulation to introduce simpler rules for accessing loans and other Financial Instruments. These changes are intended to give the necessary boost to make better use of financial instruments in the agricultural sector and providing greater access to capital for farmers, particular young farmers for whom access to credit is an ongoing problem. The overall aim is to ensure the better targeting of public money and to increase the competitiveness of the farming sector.
In the Direct Payments Regulation, the Commission is proposing to allow MS greater discretion in the application of the definition of an "active farmer" . In effect, MS will be able to decide whether or not they wish to continue applying the existing definition of "active farmer". If applied, the system will become considerably less burdensome and will substantially ease the paperwork for both farmers and national/regional administrations.
The proposals published today by the European Commission are part of the review package of the Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF). A full list of the measures included in the draft Omnibus Regulation is included in the attached annex and apply to all four of the basic CAP Regulations – Direct Payments, Rural Development, CMO and Horizontal Regulation.
The proposals made today require the full co-decision with the Council and the European Parliament, the proposed changes are not changing the orientation of the policy and the aim is that these elements, which form part of the recasting of the Financial Regulation, can be in force by the start of 2018.
Commenting on the Commission's draft Omnibus Regulation, Commissioner Hogan said "the proposal made today is further evidence of my commitment and that of the Commission to simplify the application of rules across a range of areas. In terms of the Common Agricultural Policy, the changes proposed are all important and, taken with the previous simplification actions, will remove a number of key bottlenecks and make a considerable difference in the implementation of the policy, particularly to the benefit of farmers.
I have been and I remain focused on the simplification of the CAP and I am particularly pleased that a number of the changes proposed today, notably in relation to the IST, access to financial instruments and the application of the active farmer clause, respond directly to the concerns of farmers that I have been hearing consistently since my appointment and throughout my visits to Member States."