Memorandum submitted by the Embassy of
the Federal Republic of Germany (H14)
Under Germany's federal structure, the 16 federal
states (the States or Lander) are responsible for administering
EU payments under the Common Agricultural Policy. They are therefore
also responsible for the administration of IACS. Owing to differences
is agricultural structure and historically-evolved administrative
structures, procedure across individual States is not entirely
The Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and
Forestry acts as the co-ordinating body. Its role is to promote
maximum uniformity in procedure across the States and to advise
on solutions to issues affecting all the States. This is done
through regular meetings at which interpretation of specific issues
is discussed. If no solution can be found at this level, a reference
is made to the European Commission. There are also several working
groups of representatives of the Federal Government and the States
which deal with specific tasks such as designing application forms
and inspection reports.
2. LEGAL BASIS
IACS is based on the rules set out in Council
Regulation 3508/92 and Commission Regulation 3887/92 (as amended).
These are complemented in Germany by two federal regulations,
one covering the arable sector and the other the livestock sector;
these were amended accordingly after the adoption of Agenda 2000.
The States have adopted their own further provisions, eg determining
which authority is responsible for administrative and on-the-spot
checks, in addition to regulations and rules of procedure for
the implementation of controls.
IACS comprises five main elements on which administration
of the entire payment procedure is based. Information technology
plays a large part in this process.
3.1 Identification of eligible area
Arable area payments relate to fields planted
with certain crops or set aside. For this purpose the individual
field (or agricultural parcel), with size and use, must be entered
in the "area record", which is an essential part of
the area aid application. To verify that the field as described
in the application actually exists an identification system is
required. This must be clear in order to avoid double payments
to one or several farmers for the same piece of land.
In Germany the existing system of land registers
is used for this purpose. All land parcels are registered in the
official land cadaster and can be identified by an individual
number indicating the parcel's location. This system is based
on the ownership of a piece of land. The cadastral parcel is the
smallest unit of area in Germany, and forms the basis for the
identification of eligible areas.
The field is defined as a piece of land used
by the same farmer for the same purpose. In most cases, however,
the field is not identical with the cadastral parcel. The fields
are therefore identified by reference to the cadastral parcels
of which they are part or which they comprise. The farmer must
indicate his fields as defined above, and this will be subject
to on-the-spot checks, eg by independent measurement.
Five States have, however, accepted for application
purposes a larger unit, the "production block" or "ilot"
(as used in France); this is an area comprising several fields
which are used by the same farmer but do not have to be used for
the same purpose.
In the next five years there will be substantial
changes in identification of eligible areas, as all Member States
must from 1 January 2005 use Geographical Identification Systems
for the identification of areas.
3.2 Identification of eligible livestock
Here too the aim is to avoid unjustified payments.
Livestock identification procedures under IACS are based on the
relevant EC veterinary provisions.
The identification system for cattle was changed
several times during the 1990s. In 1995 a new nation-wide identification
system was put in place to ensure that every ear-tag is only issued
once. In the same year the States and the Association of German
Livestock Breeders concluded an agreement on the issuing of ear-tags
and on a nation-wide cattle identification system on this basis.
Since then an annual ear-tag check has been in place which has
revealed only a very small number of double applications (well
under one per cent).
The EU Member States were required to set up
by 31 December 1999 a computerised database containing all the
information necessary to identify a bovine and its history. In
Germany, identification and registration of cattle are the responsibility
of the States, which have set up a central database at the Bavarian
Ministry of Agriculture in Munich.
The main aim of this database is to combat livestock
diseases and enable cattle identification. All operations where
bovines are held are obliged to report births, deaths and movements
of bovines to the database. This includes slaughter-houses and
cattle dealers. Incoming data is automatically checked against
the stored data.
As from application year 2000, this central
database is also used for administration of payments for cattle.
This removes some burden from the farmer, who no longer has to
submit a herd register and slaughter certificates with each scheme
application. The authorities can therefore now retrieve most information
directly from the database.
With respect to the ewe premium, under EU law
no individual identification of the animals is required. The applicant
needs only to keep the number of sheep stated in his application
for a prescribed period. Only when they leave the flock do the
ewes have to be identified in such a way that they can be traced
back to the originating farm. The ear-tag for sheep comprises
the abbreviation "DE" for Germany, the vehicle registration
symbol for the administrative district in which the farm is located
and a farm identification number issued by the competent authorities.
3.3 Application forms
Aid applications are based on the relevant EC
Regulations, ie the two IACS Regulations and the various support
scheme provisions. In Germany, the incorporation of these requirements
in application forms is the task of the above-mentioned working
groups of representatives of the Federal Government and the States,
which prepare model application forms containing all the essential
elements of the application for the various schemes. The States
then modify these model application forms according to their own
requirements, ie generally adding further elements, as some of
the States conduct their own schemes (eg agro-environment schemes)
through the IACS application.
In order to avoid submission of conflicting
information in different applications by the same individual and
thus to minimise time spent on corrections and penalties, many
States have introduced a "base form" in which information
and declarations applying to all schemes can be submitted just
once. Thus information relating only to the scheme in question
needs to be provided in the scheme application forms.
A major relief for applications is the procedure
whereby the area record data held by the authority from the previous
year provide the basis for all arable and area-related livestock
scheme applications. The farmer thus needs only to enter changes
in land use and to the fields themselves. Thus the time-consuming
provision of land-register documentation is no longer necessary
where there are no changes vis-a"-vis the previous year.
Together with the application forms, the farmer
receives guidance leaflets with explanatory comments on how to
fill in the forms.
Because each State is individually responsible
for IACS matters, there is no federal database for the administration
of payments. Each State administers payments independently using
its own databases in accordance with the legal framework. This
includes processing of applications, administrative and on-the-spot
checks, integration with other CAP support schemes, checks against
previous-year data, notices, payments and reclaims.
3.5 Integrated Control System
The integrated control system comprises the
electronically-supported administrative control of all applications,
together with complementary on-farm inspections (covering at least
five per cent of arable area applications and 10 per cent of livestock
All entries in the application are checked against
the data in the Electronic Land Register. In order to preclude
double payments, cross-checks are made between applications, first
at State and then at federal level. The same procedure applies
to cattle using the national database.
The choice of farms for on-the-spot checks is
based on risk analysis. Risk analysis guidelines for the various
sectorsarable area, livestock and slaughterhouseshave
been prepared by a Federal Government-States working group and
submitted to the Commission for examination. The essential elements
of risk analysis are a random selection and a risk selection.
On-the-spot checks of arable area relate primarily
to the size, use (cropping/set-aside) and type of crop as indicated
in the application. A further check is made to ensure areas have
not been prematurely harvested. In 10 (of a total of 16) States
some of these inspections are carried out by remote sensing, with
evaluation by contractors of aerial and satellite photographs
using dedicated software. In this way labour-intensive visits
to the farms can be reduced to cases of doubt.
The focus of inspection in relation to livestock
payments is correct ear-tagging, correct keeping of the herd/flock
register, correct reporting to the central database, submission
of a fully completed cattle passport and compliance with set periods
for keeping animals.
On-farm inspections are carried out by teams
which usually comprise at least two persons otherwise not directly
involved in the application. Inspectors receive full training.
In some States, specialist inspection teams are being set up covering
the entire State.
Inspections are generally without notice or
at short notice (maximum 48 hours). Prior notice is necessary
mainly in areas with a high proportion of part-time farmers.
Inspectors produce reports based on nation-wide
standards laid down by a Federal Government-States working group.
4. GUIDANCE FOR
Farmers who have submitted applications in a
previous year and are therefore already registered with the authorities
normally automatically receive application forms for the new application
year, including the accompanying guidance leaflets.
The Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and
Forestry also publishes brochures explaining the CAP support schemes.
Information on the schemes is also provided
by the agricultural press. Regional farmers' magazines reminders
of deadlines, changes in the schemes' operations and special arrangements
for particular States. Some States also hold information events.
5. USE OF
The States are anxious to achieve optimal use
of staff by applying modern technology for administration and
inspections relating to the CAP support schemes.
As already mentioned, administration of application
data is largely electronically supported. Notebooks are sometimes
used for on-the-spot checks. Area measurements in inspections
are mainly GPS-based.
The internet has so far functioned mainly as
an information mediumeg Federal Ministry brochures can
be downloaded onto the internet. Cattle farmers, however, are
already able to report livestock data to the central database
via the internet.
Most States also participate in the AGRIDOC
electronic documentation system, which files, among other things,
IACS documents which are then accessible via the internet for
internal administrative purposes.
Although electronic completion and submission
of IACS forms is an aim, this is not currently possible, mainly
because of unresolved legal issues and the need for software.
Currently farmers can only submit their area documentation on
diska facility mainly used by larger farms.
The proportion of farmers with access to the
internet in Germany is currently estimated at only 20 per cent,
so that complete replacement of written applications by electronic
means is not envisaged for the foreseeable future.
6. APPEALS PROCEDURE
After the applications have been processed and
any inspections carried out, the competent authority sends out
aid notices. If these are not in accordance with the farmer's
application, an explanation must be provided (including in the
case of penalties). The farmer can, if he does not agree with
the notice, appeal to the authority that issues itthis
is a necessary step in the event of a further appeal to the administrative
If the issuing authority declines to amend the
notice, it must submit the case to the next authority up for decision.
The latter must also undertake a full examination before its decision.
If it comes to the same conclusion as the issuing authority, the
farmer is then only entitled to appeal to the administrative tribunal.
7. SPECIFIC PROBLEMS
WITH IACS FROM
Implementation of IACS entails a whole number
of problems which relate in particular to the interpretation of
legal provisions and the treatment of individual cases.
Farmers in Germany complain about the difficulty
of understanding the rules relating to allowances and the inspection
procedure. The constant requirement to update farm data is a substantial
burden. As far as the application procedure is concerned, installation
of the central database for cattle has significantly helped the
situation; however, this is to some extent offset by the need
to correct errors that arose when the database was first set up.
The States are burdened with high staff and
other costs in relation to IACS administration. The relevant authorities
are having to handle a greater workload at a time when the civil
service is cutting jobs, and this cannot fully be compensated
by greater use of technology.
Most of the problems result from the complex
nature of the CAP support schemes and the IACS rules and procedures.
The CAP schemes contain some checking requirements which are in
particular no longer necessary. Further, there is a not insignificant
degree of uncertainty in the way inspectors interpret regulations.
Thus in Germany this year there was an intensive discussion for
several weeks on the extent to which it was necessary to check
that areas stated as forage areas for a farm's cattle were actually
being used for this purpose.
With respect to disallowance, the increasing
tendency in Germany is to refer disputed cases to the Commission.
However, the common experience is that it takes too long for a
satisfactory reply to be received from the Commission for this
to be used to resolve cases. In many cases several submissions
are necessary before the Commission has a real understanding of
the question at issue.
To achieve improvement in this context, a drastic
simplification of the schemes would be necessary. However, the
goal of optimal justice in resolving individual cases might then
have to be compromised.
Difficulty in administering the schemes is also
due to the fact that the Commissionnot least under pressure
from the European Parliament and the European Court of Auditorsis
applying ever-stricter criteria to the distribution of funds from
the EC budget, thereby disregarding the cost-benefit relationship
of additional checking procedures.
Several States report that the agri-environment
schemes are causing particular administrative difficulties. A
further new field of conflict seems likely to arise in relation
to overseeing of the Codes of Good Agricultural Practice. The
extra checks the Commission considers necessary in this area are
to some extend in conflict with the desire of the States to reduce
administrative expense through the use of technology such as remote
3 November 2000