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EU Commission seeks return of €57m in farm support payments

European Court of Auditors says Commission did not properly supervise Member States in the calculation of CAP entitlements.

THE EUROPEAN COURT of Auditors has criticised the European Commission of not properly supervising member states in the calculation of payments under the EU farm support scheme.

On foot of the audit, the Commission is seeking the recovery of €57 million from 15 member states and says that some €5m has already been recovered.

The single biggest individual correct is €20 million “charged to France for weaknesses related to the allocation of entitlements”.

Reasons cited for the financial correction include payments for ineligible animals, lenient sanctioning, and the lack of reconciling records to support claims.

In a statement, the European Court of Auditors criticised the Commission in its overseeing capacity. It said that the distribution of available support was not always consistent with EU principles and policy objectives, and payments were sometimes incorrectly calculated.

The correction concerns the Single Payment Scheme, which was introduced in 2005 under CAP reform to replace formerly direct payments for agricultural production. SPS was extended in 2008 to other agri sectors not previously (or only partially) covered by the scheme.

The ECA member responsible for the report, Augustyn Kubik, said:

Member States had a considerable margin of discretion in allocating and calculating the payment entitlements; however, the Commission retains the final responsibility for the payments of EU support for farmers.The Court found that the Commission did not adopt clear implementing rules and has not adequately supervised Member States when they distributed among their farmers the available support of around € 4.2 billion during the 2010-2012 period.

Read: Grants to Irish farmers will total €4bn over the next six years >

Read: ‘There’s much more to Macra than farming’ >

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