A total of €436 million of EU agricultural policy funds unduly spent by Member States is being claimed back by the European Commission today under the so-called clearance of accounts procedure. As some of these amounts have already been recovered from the Member States, the financial impact is somewhat lower at €426 million. This money returns to the EU budget because of non-compliance with EU rules or inadequate control procedures on agricultural expenditure. Member States are responsible for paying out and checking expenditure under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the Commission is required to ensure that Member States have made correct use of the funds. In order to take account of the financial pressures being felt by some Member States due to the financial crisis, the Commission has adopted a regulation allowing Member States under financial assistance to delay, on certain conditions, the reimbursement of disallowed funds for up to 18 months. This comes in addition to existing options to request that the reimbursement be spread over a limited number of years. The first Member State to apply for this facility is Greece.
Main financial corrections
Under this latest decision, funds will be recovered from Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom. The most significant individual corrections are:
€ 131.3 million charged to Spain for plantation of vine without the (re-) plantation rights;
€ 98.9 million charged to Italy for plantation of vine without the (re-) plantation rights;
€ 71.5 million charged to Greece for the weaknesses in the controls of dried grapes;
€ 62.9 million charged to France for deficiencies in controls of the bovine premiums;
€ 21.3 million charged to Greece for plantation of vine without the (re-) plantation rights;
€ 13.3 million (financial impact : €13.1 million) charged to Poland for a deficient sanctioning system and non-defined Good Agricultural and Environment Conditions (GAEC) with regard to cross-compliance;
€ 11.6 million charged to Greece with regard to the absence of the sugar production and storage control system.
Member States are responsible for managing most CAP payments, mainly via their paying agencies. They are also in charge of controls, for example verifying the farmer's claims for direct payments. The Commission carries out over 100 audits every year, verifying that Member State controls and responses to shortcomings are sufficient, and has the power to claw back funds in arrears if the audits show that Member State responses are not good enough to guarantee that EU funds have been spent properly.
For details on how the clearance of annual accounts system works, see MEMO/12/109 and the factsheet "Managing the agriculture budget wisely", available on the internet at: