EU should consider capping the CAP, says commissioner

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union Mariann fischer boel

Mariann Fischer Boel, EU commissioner for agriculture, said Monday
that the commission could consider putting limits on the Single
Payment Scheme if it is found that the scheme is not efficient.

The move would affect not only the 'big boys' who receive "very large CAP payments" but also small producers who would not qualify for the lower limits that could potentially be put in place.

The statements came amid news that Latvia has joined the list of member states willing to disclose EU agricultural aid as work on the European Transparency Initiative (ETI) continues.

Boel told attendees in Brussels that if it was found that before the review of the CAP in 2008, the commission should check if funds are being handed out efficiently, as many "impose top and bottom limits to what farmers can receive under the Single Payment Scheme"​This could have ramifications in particular to farmers who are on the receiving end of small subsidy entitlements "for amounts which are worth less than the cost of administering them."

A review of the CAP is scheduled for 2008, but it is predicted that the Single Payment Scheme by which payments are linked not only to production but also to observing standards relating to public health, environmental care and animal welfare will account for 90 per cent of direct payments to farmers.

And Boel said that the current move for greater transparency and review was the right approach.

"I'm convinced that we can find the right approach to bringing greater transparency to the EU's policies on agriculture and other issues.

"With regard to agricultural payments specifically, we should always bear in mind Mark Twain's comment that there are "lies, damn lies and statistics". Numbers taken out of context can mislead.

"But if we clearly explain that context to the people who need to know - the public - statistics can be the servant of genuine transparency, not of lies."

The 'big three' receivers of CAP payments, France, Spain and the UK, who received 45 per cent of the €43.5bn in 2004 have already agreed to disclose some information on the principal farm subsidy beneficiaries. Latvia became the thirteenth country to join the list, while the Czech Republic is also considered to be close to agreeing.

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