COMMON AGRICULTURE POLICY: SIMPLIFICATION
ACTION PLAN (13494/05)
Letter from the Chairman to Lord Bach,
Minister for Sustainable Farming and Food, Department for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs
In November 2005, Sub Committee D (Environment
and Agriculture) scrutinised the Commission's Communication on
Simplification and Better Regulation from the Common Agricultural
Policy (CAP) (doc 13494/05) and cleared the report from scrutiny.
The Communication had recommended that a CAP simplification action
plan should be drafted during 2006 and this was subsequently agreed
to at the December Agriculture and Fisheries Council. The Committee
agreed that it would wish to submit its views to the Government
during the preparation of the Action Plan.
The Committee welcomes the Commission's initiative
to simplify the CAP. We consider that this would make a significant
contribution to the wider Better Regulation agenda. During evidence
to the Committee's inquiry into the future financing of the CAP
(2nd report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 7), Mr Mark Thomasin-Foster,
President of the European Landowners' Organization, suggested
that farmers faced an inordinate level of bureaucracy in order
to claim their single farm payment (QQ 87-88). The Committee concluded
that it would be extremely disappointing if the benefit to farmers
of receiving a consolidated single farm payment was negated by
the time and paperwork required in applying for it (paragraph
The Committee would therefore welcome concrete
moves to cut the administrative burden for farmers. The Action
Plan must be practical. It should set out tangible ways for Member
States to measure "red tape" burden accompanied by reduction
targets. It is important that the words "Better Regulation"
should not be interpreted by the Commission to mean "More
Regulation". It will also be important for the Action Plan
to suggest a method to monitor and review the impact on farmers.
We welcome the opportunity to submit views to
the Action Plan preparation process and look forward to receiving
the final Action Plan in due course.
2 February 2006
Letter from Lord Bach to the Chairman
Thank you for your letter of 2 February following
the consideration of the CAP Simplification dossier by Sub Committee
D (Environment and Agriculture). I entirely agree with the Committee
that this process must be practical, cut administrative burdens
for farmers, and examine the options for measuring such burdens
and setting targets for their reduction. It is essential that
this process does not lead to "more regulation", and
that it goes beyond a simple tidying up exercise.
I am very pleased that under our Presidency
we were able to adopt Conclusions at December Agriculture Council
requesting the Commission to explore options for establishing
measurable targets for the reduction of the administrative burden
of EU regulation in the Agriculture Sector, and to produce a roadmap
within its Action Plan.
The measurement of administrative burdens is
a key element of the Commission's Better Regulation agenda. But
DG Agriculture now has the opportunity to be the first sector
of the Commission to take this forward. For them to do so, it
is essential that the Member States provide support by sharing
information and analysis. My Department will play a leading role
in this exercise, and we are in discussions with the Commission
and Member States on how we would do this.
The Council Conclusions also request the Commission
to report annually to Council on progress. We understand that
preparation of the Action Plan will entail: regular meetings of
an "Expert Group" (Government representatives of the
Member States), which began on 17 February; discussion of a draft
Action Plan at an international conference of stakeholders in
the Autumn: and final publication of the Action Plan by the end
of the year.
I would be happy to keep you informed of progress,
and to come and talk to the Lords Committee, in order to hear
your views, as work on the Action Plan develops.
27 February 2006