Go back to the Europarl portal

Choisissez la langue de votre document :

REPORT     
20 November 1996
PE 218.447/fin. A4-0378/96
on the proposal for a Council Regulation amending Regulation No 1765/92 establishing a support system for producers of certain arable crops (COM(96)0175 - C4-0389/96 - 96/0167(CNS))
Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development
Rapporteur: Mr David Hallam
By letter of 10 July 1996, the Council consulted Parliament, pursuant to Articles 42 and 43 of the EC Treaty, on the proposal for a Council Regulation amending Regulation No 1765/92 establishing a support system for producers of certain arable crops.
 A LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL DRAFT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 B. EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION

 By letter of 10 July 1996, the Council consulted Parliament, pursuant to Articles 42 and 43 of the EC Treaty, on the proposal for a Council Regulation amending Regulation No 1765/92 establishing a support system for producers of certain arable crops.

At the sitting of 15 July 1996, the President of the European Parliament announced that he had referred this proposal to the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development as the committee responsible and the Committee on Budgets for its opinion.

At its meeting of 3 September 1996 the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development appointed Mr David Hallam rapporteur.

It considered the Commission proposal and the draft report at its meetings of 2/3 October, 9/10 October and 19/20 November 1996.

At the last meeting it adopted the draft legislative resolution unanimously.

The following took part in the vote: Jacob, chairman; Funk, vice-chairman; Hallam, rapporteur; Anttila, Arias Cañete, Campos, Cunha, Ephremidis, Fantuzzi, Fraga Estévez, Gillis, Goepel, Görlach, Hardstaff, Hyland, Jové Peres, Kindermann, Kofoed, Langen (for Keppelhoff-Wiechert), Mayer, Morgan (for Wilson), Needle (for Spiers), Nicholson (for Dimitrakopoulos), des Places (for Martinez), Provan (for Sturdy), Redondo Jiménez, Rehder, Rosado Fernandes, Santini, Sonneveld, Thomas, Weber and Vandemeulebroucke (for Barthet-Mayer).

The opinion of the Committee on Budgets is attached.

The report was tabled on 20 November 1996.

The deadline for tabling amendments will be Thursday, 5 December 1996 at noon.


 A LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL DRAFT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

Proposal for a Council Regulation amending Regulation No 1765/92 establishing a support system for producers of certain arable crops (COM(96)0175 - C4-0389/96 - 96/0167(CNS))

The proposal is approved with the following amendments:

Text proposed by the Commission(1)

Amendments by Parliament

(Amendment 1)
ARTICLE 1, PARAGRAPH 1
Article 2, paragraph 6, second indent and second paragraph
(Regulation (EEC) No 1765/92)

- in the following marketing year, producers in the general scheme will be required to make, without compensation, an extraordinary set-aside. The percentage rate for extraordinary set-aside shall be equal to the percentage by which the regional base area has been exceeded, established by deducting 85% of the area set aside under voluntary set-aside in accordance with Article 7(6). This shall be additional to the set-aside requirement given in Article 7. However, if the excess in the regional base area leads to a level of extraordinary set-aside of less than 1% being applied in respect of the 1996 harvest, the extraordinary set-aside shall not be applied.

Areas which are the subject of extraordinary set-aside in accordance with the second indent of the preceding subparagraph shall not be taken into account in applying this paragraph.

deleted

(Amendment 2)
ARTICLE 1, PARAGRAPH 3
Article 12 (Regulation (EEC) No 1765/92)

In Article 12 the following is added at the end of the first indent:

'and (7), including the special conditions to be applied in the case of Germany,'

deleted

Legislative resolution embodying Parliament's opinion on the proposal for a Council Regulation amending Regulation No 1765/92 establishing a support system for producers of certain arable crops (COM(96)0175 - C4-0389/96 - 96/0167(CNS))

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

- having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council, COM(96)0175 - 96/0167(CNS)(2),

- having been consulted by the Council pursuant to Articles 42 and 43 of the EC Treaty (C40389/96),

- having regard to Rule 58 of its Rules of Procedure,

- having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the opinion of the Committee on Budgets (A4-0378/96),

1. Approves the Commission proposal, subject to Parliament's amendments;

2. Calls on the Council to notify Parliament should it intend to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

3. Asks to be consulted again should the Council intend to make substantial modifications to the Commission proposal;

4. Instructs its President to forward this opinion to the Council and Commission.

(1)OJ C 243, 22.8.1996, p 3.
(2)OJ No C 243, 22.8.1996, p 3.


 B. EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

The Commission makes two proposals which are in response to a request by the Agriculture Council of November 1995 to propose a system whereby the penalties applied when the base area is exceeded is made more flexible.

The essential objective of the first proposal is to meet the needs caused by climatic disasters, such as the recent drought in Spain.

Under Regulation (EEC) No 1765/92, the general principle was established that a base area overshoot should lead to a reduction in the area eligible for aid, even when climatic conditions contributed to the overshoot. This reduction takes two forms: firstly a proportional reduction in aids in the same year and, secondly, in the following year, the producers concerned have to carry out extraordinary set-aside which is equal to the proportion of the excess over the regional base area.

The Council subsequently adopted Regulation (EEC) No 2989/95 under which the Commission can give partial or total exemption from this second requirement (extraordinary set-aside) when a base area has been overshot for exceptional climatic reasons. The intention of the present regulation is to complement this measure by applying the same type of relaxation to the first provision, ie to the sanctions which apply in the same year as the overshoot is incurred.

The rapporteur notes that a number of objections of principle have been raised by the Committee on Budgets. The rapporteur does not accept these points. The Community has a duty, as manager of agricultural policy, towards its producers, who are not to blame for the problems arising from climatic disasters. In the case of Spain, the drought meant that it was impossible to grow certain crops (indeed, the government effectively banned the growing of some crops), which meant farmers switched production, claiming the aids they were entitled to do in the process, and so incurring the overshoot. The exemption which is now proposed does not constitute a reversal of the reform of the CAP, as the Committee on Budgets suggests, but reaction to an exceptional climatic event which was not envisaged when the system was set up. The Commission proposes that this measure should be applicable from the 1995 marketing year, which is consistent with the fact that it is intended to deal with the drought in Spain in 1995. By definition, since the penalty was in the past, the exemption must be retroactive.

Although the cost of the exemption is estimated at ECU 143.6 million for 1996, it should be borne in mind that savings were made as a result of the decline in production (storage costs, export refunds, production aids were reduced). These factors will operate in future years, for which the Commission is unable to give an estimate of costs because it is impossible to predict the frequency or severity of climatic disasters.

The rapporteur approves the extension of the relaxation of penalties to the financial area in the year of the harvest. However, this would seem an opportune moment to ask for the suppression of extraordinary set-aside. The detailed arguments for this are set out in a report by Mr Gillis(1) which was adopted by the Parliament in November 1995, although on that occasion the proposal to abolish extraordinary set-aside which was put forward by Mr Gillis and supported by the Committee on Agriculture was not accepted by the Parliament. However, the Parliament agreed in the follow-up report by Mr Gillis(2) to suspend extraordinary set-aside for 1996 and this proposal was accepted by the Council.

An amendment is therefore proposed to delete extraordinary set-aside.

The second proposal in the Commission's document gives Member States which apply a single national base area the power to concentrate the penalties which arise when a base area is exceeded on particular sub-base areas which are responsible for the excess. In other words, the provisions relating to an overshoot of a national base area would be restricted to the precise sub-base areas which have created the overshoot, if the Member State concerned felt that it were to the advantage of the producers concerned.

The Commission is aware that under such a system, there is a possibility that producers might not take the risk of penalties quite so seriously and proposes that Member States must announce publicly the rules it intends to apply in distributing penalties. Further, in order to avoid the possibility that producers within a regional sub-base area might expand the area planted without adequate warning, which would disrupt the system, the Commission proposes that the minimum size of sub-base areas be fixed.

The rapporteur is uneasy with this proposal. The set-aside system is already very complex indeed. The relatively simple idea of set-aside has been made into a system which is very difficult to understand and to apply. The Parliament has expressed the wish(3) that it be simplified, yet the proposal here will do the reverse. While it is comprehensible that producers in one area should feel that they should not be penalised for an overshoot in another area (for example, the producers in western parts of Germany might feel that they should not bear the penalty for an overshoot in the Länder of the east), the proposal by which Member States could create sub-base areas could fragment the delicate system of control which has been built up. It will add to bureaucratic procedures, complicate the administration of the system, and may result in further overshoots if the measures which the Commission proposes to avoid such problems are not adequate.

A system which is based on penalties is inevitably painful, and it is important to ensure justice between producers. If penalties are applied to specific sub-base areas, they will have to be more severe in those areas if the overall national penalty is not to be reduced, yet it is not all producers in that area which are responsible for overshoots. Thus, certain farmers could face stiffer penalties than at present for reasons which are not of their making, simply because they are in the "wrong" area.

The rapporteur believes that this second part of the proposal is unduly complex, unlikely to be effective, and will create further inequalities which will lead to yet further demands to complicate the system. It should therefore be rejected. With the deletion of extraordinary set-aside which is proposed, and with the extension of the exemption for climatic disasters to the financial penalties, an element of simplicity and fairness will be brought back into the system, which is more comprehensible to farmers and likely to be just as effective.

A subsidiary proposal is also included in the regulation, concerning the temporary adjustment which was applied when the new Länder of the Federal Republic of Germany were brought into the Union. This amendment is linked to the proposal for sub-base areas and should therefore also be deleted.

(1)Report on the proposal for a Council Regulation amending Regulation (EEC) No 1765/92 establishing a support system for producers of certain arable crops (A4-0246/95).
(2) Report on the proposal for a Council Regulation derogating from Regulation (EEC) No 1765/92 establishing a support system for producers of certain arable crops as regards the set-aside requirement for the 1997/98 marketing year (A4-0236/96 of 9 July 1996).
(3)Report on the proposal for a Council Regulation amending Regulation (EEC) No 1765/92 establishing a support system for producers of certain arable crops (A4-0246/95).


 OPINION

of the Committee on Budgets

Letter from the chairman of the Committee on Budgets to Mr Christian JACOB, chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

Brussels, 4 September 1996

Subject: Proposal for a Council Regulation (EC) amending Regulation (EEC) No 1765/92 establishing a support system for producers of certain arable crops (COM(96)0175 - C4-0389/96 - 96/0167(CNS))

Dear Mr Jacobs,

At its meeting of 4 September 1996 the Committee on Budgets considered the above proposal for a Regulation.

The Committee on Budgets noted that the proposal was in response to a request by the Agriculture Council in November 1995 that the Commission submit a proposal, within two months, for making the system of penalties applied when the base area is exceeded more flexible. The purpose of this Commission proposal is:

- to exempt Member States from financial penalties arising from overshoots that are the consequence of exceptional weather conditions. This measure will apply from the 1995 harvest and concerns overshoots noted in Spain;

- to authorize Member States that opt to create one or more national base areas, possibly subdivided into sub-base areas, to concentrate any penalties totally or partially on one or more of those sub-base areas provided that such redistribution does not lead to an overall reduction in the national penalty.

It noted the Commission's remark that the proposal, covered by budget lines B-1040 to 1055, would entail an increase in expenditure of around ECU 143.6 m and that these additional costs could be met from appropriations in the relevant chapter or by transfer between chapters in the current budget. According to the observations in the Financial Statement, the additional expenditure for 1996 is offset by savings, in particular through lower cereals exports and more profitable use of cereal stocks resold within the Community. The Commission considers that, for the following years, additional appropriations will need to be entered in future budgets.

Referring to its opinion of 15 July 1996 on reductions in the set-aside rate, the Committee on Budgets pointed out that the proposed more flexible arrangements would only contribute to applying the strategy, which it had already denounced, of reversing the 1992 CAP reform.

While noting that the approach taken in this sector seemed to be different from that taken in the past with regard to other sectors (dairy sector), the Committee on Budgets expressed surprise at the ease with which the Commission was proposing a derogation system, with retroactive effect. In this context, it expressed serious doubts as to the legality of such a proposal in the light of the basic principles of legality and legal certainty which are essential to the sound operation of the EU.

The Committee on Budgets also drew attention to the risk inherent in the fact that the proposal would create a precedent which would undermine the credibility of any future system of penalties established at EU level.

Yours sincerely,

Detlev SAMLAND

The following were present for the vote: Samland, chairman; Tillich, first vice-chairman; Bösch, Brinkhorst, Colom I Naval, Dankert, Dührkop Dührkop, Elles, Fabra Valles, Giansily, Haug, König, Le Gallou, McCartin, Tappin, Theato and Wynn.

Last updated: 27 March 1999Legal notice