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- Farming and rural
Rigid red tape failing to meet Scotland’s needs.
European efforts to cut red tape and ensure Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) regulations are fit for purpose must be redoubled as a matter of urgency.
That was the message from Scotland's Environment Minister Aileen McLeod at the EU's Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels, where CAP simplification was on the agenda.
Dr McLeod expressed disappointment at the lack of progress being made to reduce red tape in line with Brian Pack's recommendations - and revealed that Scotland has had four separate CAP audits from EU institutions since September.
The Minister also called for greater flexibility so that the CAP can be adapted to meet Scotland's needs – especially on Greening which the EU will not review until next year – and added that she welcomes Commissioner Hogan's open mind, but would like to see that translated into practical action.
Dr McLeod said:
"The rigid regulations of this new CAP reform does Scottish farming no favours at all – especially in this first year of implementing an incredibly complex policy to very tight timescales.
"Indeed, producers and administrations right across Europe are currently caught in the worst of both worlds – tied up in red tape and unable to truly tailor the CAP to ensure it meets local needs.
"The EU could and should have done more to ease the administrative burden this year. For example, Scotland has had four separate CAP audits from EU institutions since September – tying up experienced Scottish Government staff at a crucial time for processing payments to farmers.
"The lack of progress is extremely disappointing and I am concerned that the European Commission will not now review the Greening rules until next year.
"What we urgently need is enough flexibility so that we can make policy decisions at local level that strike the right balance between efficacy and simplicity. This must include the ability to not implement things that add no benefit here, such as the three crop rule.
"Scotland's Rural Affairs Secretary has previously called for a mid-term review of Pillar 1 – and it is now more important than ever that the Commission seriously considers this as a priority."
The four EU audits were of Rural Development payments, LEADER payments, Scotland's Land Parcels Identification System (LPIS) and a statement of assurance audit.