Food Law News - EU - 1999
28 April 1999: LEGISLATION - Commission adopts report on simplification of agricultural legislation
Brussels, 28 April 1999
Commission adopts report on simplification of agricultural legislation
The European Commission has adopted a report detailing the progress of concrete initiatives taken to simplify the European Union (EU) agricultural legislation, which is often criticised for being too complex. By simplifying existing legislation the Commission aims to achieve two distinct goals. Firstly, to reduce the administrative workload which the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) imposes on farmers and administrative authorities. Secondly, to make agricultural legislation as clear, transparent and easily accessible as possible. In order to render agricultural legislation more transparent and more easily accessible, the Commission has launched a project to produce informal consolidations of agricultural legislation in all EU official languages which can be consulted by Internet (1). These acts will be continuously up-dated and will also be available to the general public and to national administrations via Internet. Although the informal consolidated texts are not legally binding, they will substantially facilitate the quest for relevant rules by all those concerned by the CAP, for example farmers' unions, national administrations, trade and industry, controllers, consumer organisations and universities.
Commenting on the report, Mr Franz FISCHLER, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that "simplification of EU legislation is crucial in the interest of transparency and of bringing the EU closer to the EU citizen. It is also important for farmers, the agricultural industry and national administrations who have to respect and/or manage the CAP. The more complex the rules are, the more difficult and costly - in terms of administrative and human resources - will they be to implement, to manage and to control. This is particularly important for the CAP since it represents half of the EU Budget and about 60% of the total EU legislation," he said. "This is why this Commission, already when it took office in 1995, started to work on simplification of the CAP. Over the past few years the Commission has undertaken a number of important and concrete initiatives in order to simplify agricultural legislation. The report, which the Commission has adopted today, gives the state of play of the work carried out up to now", he added.
Reducing the agricultural administrative burden
Initiatives taken by the Commission to reduce the administrative burden of the CAP are threefold:
- I - Simplification of the rules of the CAP - CAP reforms in the context of the Agenda 2000 package contain some important elements of simplification in various sectors. Furthermore, some changes were introduced by the olive oil reform in June 1998 which will facilitate the management and improve control of the system.
- II - Simplification of animal and public health legislation - In the second half of 1999, the Commission intends to present a single hygiene regulation governing all aspects of food safety. The new regulation will streamline all elements contained in the current 16 directives governing this sector.
- III - Consultation of the national paying agencies - The Commission has invited the EAGGF national paying agencies to put forward proposals for the simplification of administrative rules and procedures. Some of these have already been implemented within the framework of Agenda 2000 or have been the subject of separate Commission decisions, while others are still being worked on and will lead to proposals for simplification during the coming year.
Increasing the transparency and accessibility of agricultural legislation
Similarly, three initiatives have been launched by the Commission in an effort to make agricultural legislation more transparent and accessible:
- I - Informal consolidation of agricultural legislation in the 11 official languages - As agricultural legislation is amended by successive legal acts, all modifications will be integrated into single, correct and up-dated versions. They will be available to the general public and to national administrations via Internet. Although non-binding, the consolidated versions will substantially facilitate the search for rules in force by all those concerned by the CAP. It will thus eliminate confusion and minimise the risk of misinterpretation. A first set of consolidated acts is already available, and the process should be completed for all agricultural legislation within the next few years.
- II - Elimination of all agricultural legislation no longer applicable - All agricultural legislation formally still in force but which is no longer applicable is to be deleted. This will simplify user access to the legislation which is still relevant. Around 300 acts have been eliminated so far.
- III - Standardisation of Commission publications covering export refunds - Different systems are currently used in the different sectors to indicate destinations in connection with the fixing of export refunds. The present systems are often complex and make the regulations on export refunds difficult to read and understand. This creates a distinct risk of misunderstandings and errors. In order to overcome these problems, the Commission is currently working to standardise Commission publications covering export refunds. Once adopted the new system will facilitate the electronic exchange of data and information between the Commission and the Member States. This will improve the implementation of the rules.
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