More Transparency on Farm Subsidies

EU - The Commission has adopted a proposal designed to apply new rules with regard to the publication of information on the beneficiaries of European agricultural funds.
calendar icon 28 September 2012
clock icon 3 minute read

This legislative review has been prompted by a 2010 judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) which invalidated part of Commission Regulation (EC) 259/2008, particularly as regards the publication of information on individual beneficiaries of the agricultural funds.

The proposal takes into account the legal constraints inherent to the protection of personal data by setting certain limits upon the publication of individual names and by asking Member States to publish more detailed information, particularly on the type of aid and the description of the measures for which the funds have been allocated.

"At a time when many Member States’ national budgets are being squeezed, I consider it vital to inform citizens how the aid from the Union's Common Agricultural Policy is being spent," stated Commissioner Dacian Ciolos.

This revision of the regulations on transparency aims to reconcile the need for transparency with that for the protection of personal data. It follows an ECJ judgment which, on 9 November 2010, had partially invalidated the regulations on transparency in the agricultural sector, particularly as regards the publication of information on individual beneficiaries.

As a result of that judgment, the Commission immediately on 10 November 2010 asked Member States to suspend the publication of data relating to individuals. It also adapted the implementing Regulation in April 2011 with a view to limiting the publication of data on beneficiaries to legal persons only, pending the adoption of a new Regulation.

The new rules adopted by the Commission take the Court's objections into account and differ from those the Court had invalidated in that:

  • they are based on a detailed, revised justification, centred on the need for public control over the use of European agricultural funds, with the aim of protecting the Union’s financial interests;
  • they require more detailed information to be supplied on the type of aid and the description of the measures for which the funds have been allocated;
  • they include a de minimis threshold below which the name of the beneficiary shall not be published.

Introducing a threshold in no way detracts from the completeness of the information provided.

The most recent Eurobarometer survey dating from 2011 shows that 62 per cent of citizens are in favour of publishing information on the beneficiaries of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments, while only 22 per cent are against.

Charlotte Johnson

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