Farm Ireland

Monday 18 December 2017

Irish ordered to pay €600k back to Europe

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Ireland is to pay back over €600,000 to the European Commission for its failure to comply with rules on agricultural spending.

The majority of the money, some €397,000, is to be clawed back by the Commission because of weaknesses in Ireland's Early Retirement Scheme and Young Farmers' Installation Scheme.

It is believed that the Commission was highly critical of weaknesses of part of the Early Retirement Scheme in which agricultural advisers provided declarations or certificates vouching that the farmer had farmed for 10 years preceding the farm transfer and that the transferee had a specific number of years experience in farming.

However the agricultural advisers did not provide any documentation or information to support the claims and so they could not be verified by the Department of Agriculture.

In relation to the Young Farmers' Installation Scheme, it is believed that the Commission was unhappy that objectives contained in the young farmer's business plan were not always measurable and so compliance with the business plan could not be verified.

Almost €200,000 is being clawed back because of "known errors" found by the Commission during the financial clearance for 2010, while a further €30,000 is to be paid for non-reporting of interest on debts.

However, Ireland's penalty for infringements of the CAP rules pale in comparison to the bills being sent to other European member states.

The Commission is claiming back a total of €414m of agricultural funding unduly spent by 22 members states.

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Over €110m is being clawed back from Britain for weaknesses in its Land Parcel Identification and Geographic Information Systems (LPIS-GIS) in England, as well as for problems with applications, administrative cross checks and on-the-spot controls for its area aid payments.

Italy must pay back over €48m for infringements in cross compliance, including poor control of several statutory management requirements (SMRs), three undefined good agricultural and environmental conditions (GAECs) and incorrect application of sanctions.

Spain must also pay back €40.6m for shortcomings in the management and control of export refunds.

Among the other members states' bills include Poland (€34m), France (€29m) and Romania (€12.5m).

Irish Independent