About this consultation

Consultation period
15 December 2015 - 8 March 2016
Agriculture and rural development

Responses to this consultation

As signalled when the consultation was launched, all received contributions, together with the identity of the contributor are published on the Internet unless the contributor objected to publication of the personal data on the grounds that such publication would harm his or her legitimate interests, by clicking the appropriate box in the questionnaire.

In this case the contribution has been published in anonymous form. Other contributions are not published but its content was taken into account.

View the contributions

The Commission has committed itself to publishing all contributions to its consultations. To make a clear distinction between contributions from organisations listed in the EU Transparency Register and those from all other organisations (as required by the Commission's communication of 21 March 2007) the contributions should be published at least in the following categories:

Target group

Views were sought from farmers, Member States' administrations, representative organisations and non-governmental organisations at EU and national level, academics/researchers and interested public.

Given the scope and the level of detail of the initiative, this consultation targeted in particular professionals and other stakeholders with in-depth knowledge and/or hands-on experience of greening.

Objective of the consultation

Policy field - Agriculture

Following the introduction of certain "Greening" obligations for farmers agreed by the co-legislators in the 2013 CAP reform, which applied for the first time in 2015, and in line with the Commission's ambition to simplify EU policies where possible, the Commission (DG AGRI) ran a public consultation from 15 December 2015 to 8 March 2016 aimed at getting feedback from stakeholders on how the greening rules had worked in practice in the first year.

The consultation coincided with and contributed to the preparation of a detailed Staff Working Document on how Greening measures were applied in 2015, and a short summary of this consultation responses was included in Annex 5 of the Staff Working Document.

Objective of the consultation

Views were sought on the experience with the implementation of the greening obligations under the direct payment scheme within the common agricultural policy (CAP) that are set in EU delegated regulation 639/2014 and EU implementing regulation 641/2014.

Of particular interest were views related to the implementation of greening, the level playing field (possibility to manage farms on an equal footing with farmers in other EU countries) and production potential, and on possible ways to simplify the greening framework and reduce the administrative burden associated to it. It was also expected to obtain respondents' first views on the effects of greening.

The contributions will feed the analysis by the Commission among others on the potential to reduce the administrative burden for farmers and national administrations that ensue from the implementation of these Regulations; and/or where the requirements overlap or are inconsistent; and could be modified without affecting the environmental objectives of the greening and the sound financial management of the CAP.

This exercise responded to the EU declaration by the Commission of 2 April 2014 accompanying the adoption of EU delegated regulation 639/2014 and was conducted in the framework of and as a contribution to simplifying the CAP (see below).

Context and background

Farmers entitled to a payment under the basic payment scheme or the single area payment scheme must observe on all their eligible area practices that benefit the environment and the climate. Those practices which go beyond cross-compliance include: diversifying crops, maintaining permanent grassland and dedicating 5% of arable land to ecologically beneficial elements ('ecological focus areas, EFA'.) 2015 is the first year for farmers to comply with the greening obligations.

The basic greening requirements are established in EU regulation 1307/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council. This Regulation differentiates the greening obligations depending on the specific situation in certain regions of EU countries, category of farmers and type of agricultural land. The Regulation establishes a list of EFA types (e.g., landscape features, buffer strips) while it leaves it for national authorities to select from that list EFA types that they will offer to their farmers to choose from.

EU delegated regulation 639/2014 and EU implementing regulation 641/2014 specify certain technical parameters and implementation arrangements of the greening framework. These include, among others, the criteria/requirements for the qualification of EFA types (production methods, dimension limits, deadlines etc.), sub-categories of EFA type of 'landscape features' (ponds, hedges etc.), rules on where national authorities may require or allow farmers to have common EFAs (regional, collective implementation), how to calculate shares of crops for crop diversification, and for national authorities how to calculate the ratio of permanent grassland and steps to take if this ratio decreases below the acceptable level. Some requirements, especially for EFAs e.g., certain restrictions on inputs, are left for EU countries' national authorities to decide in light of their priorities and specific circumstances.

A summary of EU Member States' choices under the Direct Payments scheme for 2015 contains more detailed information on national choices for EFA.

At the time of the adoption of the EU delegated regulation 639/2014 the Commission issued a declaration committing itself to evaluate the experience with the implementation of the EFA obligation after the first year of application looking in particular at administrative burden, simplification of procedures, level playing field and production potential aspects. Simplifying the CAP has been identified as one of the key political priorities of Commissioner Hogan. It is guided by the following three principles: simplification needs to concentrate on what benefits farmers and other beneficiaries, on reducing the administrative burden for national and regional administrations and on maintaining the sound financial management of the CAP. Simplifying the CAP is an ongoing process.