Brussels, Scottish government must work to deliver CAP simplification

NFU Scotland has laid out its list of priorities if European Commissioner Phil Hogan’s urgent review on CAP simplification is to deliver a badly-needed cut in red tape and simplify rules.

The Union’s demands on simplification focus on the new direct support (Pillar 1) CAP package – and the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) – that came into operation at the beginning of 2015, where there is most to gain from a reduction in the administrative burden.

Despite its long gestation period, Scottish farmers continue to be confused and frustrated by the rules associated with the new BPS, including those concerning ‘Agricultural practices beneficial for the climate and environment’ (Greening) and Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC).

Reasons for this include increased complexity of the EU legislation; the late publication of delegated and implementing acts; a considerable amount of missing detail in the legislation; late changes to guidance by the Commission and Scottish Government and unsatisfactory communication from the EU Commission to competent authorities like Scottish Government and from Scottish Government to farmers.

Commenting on the NFU Scotland submission on CAP simplification, President Allan Bowie said: “Scotland needs to take advantage of the flexibility provided in the new CAP in order to tailor the package to best support agriculture here. We accept that this introduces complexity but there is so much that has come from Brussels that could easily be simplified.

“The best example of unnecessary complication is the EU Commission’s determination to maintain the three basic Greening requirements relating to Permanent Pasture, Crop Diversification (CD) and Ecological Focus Areas (EFA). This has simply hamstrung competent authorities (CA) like the Scottish Government as the regulations do not provide the required flexibility to address differing climate and environment priorities despite imposing a high degree of complexity in both implementation and regulation.

“We welcome Commissioner Hogan’s commitment to simplification and the agreement by the Scottish Government that simplification is needed. We recognise, however, that addressing some issues will require changes to the basic regulations agreed in 2013 and that achieving a consensus for any significant changes with the European Parliament will neither be quick nor easy.”

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