Sunday

23rd Jul 2017

Bogus UK farmland received EU farm aid

  • Every EU citizen pays €105 per year to the CAP, of which €80 go into direct payments (Photo: caese)

The European Commission on Tuesday (26 February) fined the United Kingdom €111.7 million for failing to detect bogus farmland.

A number of farmers received direct payments from the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on land that was not arable.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Some of the so-called arable "parcels" were instead covered with trees, while buildings carpeted other areas.

The bogus information was handed over to the UK authorities between 2008 and 2010. The authorities are required to cross-check the data but an EU audit found the UK had failed to verify if the CAP funds were properly appropriated.

Unlike other areas of EU spending, member states administer and have complete control over CAP’s direct payment system.

Direct payments account for around €40 billion of the EU’s annual budget and are sourced from the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF).

“There are clear rules on how this should be managed and the UK authority didn’t live up to what was required,” Roger Waite, spokesperson for EU agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos, told this website.

The EAGF is managed by the commission but it is up to the national or regional paying agencies to hand out the money, verify admissibility of claims and ensure compliance with EU rules.

In the UK, agencies in January 2012 gave farmers up to €200 per hectare in EU direct aid.

Member states pay the farmers up front and then the following month claim the money back from Brussels. Brussels then reimburses the amount a month later.

The commission’s €100 million penalty will be deducted from the UK’s upcoming reimbursement bill.

“If we need to spread it over several months, we do,” said Waite.

Waite said the lax controls by national authorities became more common when in 2005 the direct payment system was changed, following the 2003 reforms.

Funds will also be recovered from 21 other member states for a total of €414 million of CAP expenditure.

The UK tops the list with Italy coming in at a distant second with a €48.2 million fine and Spain at €40.6 million.

The fines are based on a flat-rate penalty of around 1 or 2 percent depending on the seriousness of the charge. Higher penalty rates are given for repeat offenders.

The lack of transparency over payouts is also an issue.

The pro-transparency group Farmsubsidy.org found that fewer than one in ten beneficiaries of EU farm subsidies were disclosed in 2012.

Member states are supposed to publish the beneficiaries of CAP on websites but seldom do in practice.

Instead, some publish incorrect data while others like Ireland, France, Italy and the Netherlands have “systems specifically designed to thwart access to the data.”

The group says transparency was delivered a blow when the Court of Justice ruled in 2012 against full disclosure due to privacy issues.

MEPs can unpick EU farm subsidies deal

Agreement on EU farm subsidies remains far from clear, after the European Commission said the European Parliament could unpick the deal reached last week at the EU budget summit

Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU

Lawmakers in Poland adopted a controversial reform of the Supreme Court, despite warnings from the EU that the move could trigger a sanction procedure over the rule of law.

Investigation

Mafia money pollutes the EU economy

Huge amounts of money from criminal activities are funnelled into the legitimate European economy. But little is being done about it at EU or national level.

Investigation

Mafia money pollutes the EU economy

Huge amounts of money from criminal activities are funnelled into the legitimate European economy. But little is being done about it at EU or national level.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary