Thursday, 8 March 2007

Ceisteanna (62)

Seán Ryan

Ceist:

54 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she will report on the status of the CAP simplification process; and if she will make a statement on her position in this process. [9095/07]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Agriculture and Food)

The process of simplification of the CAP has been under way for some years and is on-going. Achievements to date include simplification in the areas of State Aids, the CAP financing system, the removal of obsolete legislation, the CAP reforms of 2003 and 2004 which brought together a large number of direct income supports into the single farm payment and the Rural Development Regulation which streamlined into one fund the programming, funding and financial systems for rural development.

In October 2006, the Commission hosted a conference with stakeholders and Member States with a view to defining the future simplification agenda. The Conference discussed a draft Action Plan for technical simplification presented by the Commission. Currently the draft plan contains some 20 proposals for legislative simplification, mainly technical in nature.

In December the Commission published its proposal for the creation of a single Common Market Organisation by the rationalisation and amalgamation of the existing 21 CMOs. This proposal which the Commission regards as a key element of its simplification strategy will be discussed in the Council on 19 March.

A Commission report on the application of cross-compliance is due to be published in March and presented to the Council in April. At the January Council, the Commissioner acknowledged that the implementation of cross-compliance was perceived as an additional burden and undertook to streamline and simplify measures where possible. She undertook, in particular, to consider ade minimis threshold to exempt minor infringements from financial sanction.

The Commission has also indicated that it will pursue the simplification agenda in the context of the forthcoming reforms of the wine, fruit and vegetables and bananas Common Market Organisations and the 2008 Health Check. The simplification agenda is a key priority for the current German Presidency.

I am fully supportive of the simplification process. My priority is to ensure that simplification relates to practical measures to reduce bureaucracy and to ease the administrative burden on farmers, the public and the Department, notably in the areas of Single Payment System and cross-compliance. I have discussed the matter on numerous occasions with the Commissioner and with the German Presidency. I wrote to Commissioner Fischer Boel and the Presidency in January last outlining my concerns in relation to a number of specific issues. My main concerns relate to the lack of advance notification of inspections under the Single Payment Scheme and the level of sanctions to be applied under cross-compliance, including the extent of tolerance applied where non-compliance is inadvertent or negligible. I also raised these issues in the Council of Ministers in January and urged the Commissioner to present proposals to improve the current situation as quickly as possible. I have also raised these matters with a number of my EU Ministerial colleagues in order to garner support for my position. I intend to pursue these issues actively over the coming months.