Are there any legal impediments to the Irish Department of Agriculture introducing retrospective requirements for inclusion in the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme? As this is an annual scheme, the Department may change the criteria on a yearly basis; however, if it links inclusion in the scheme in year X to the criteria in force in year X-1, then it has itself created a link between the two years and the scheme cannot strictly be seen as an annual one.
In this context, how can a retrospective requirement be deemed legal? Not only is such a retrospective requirement grossly unjust, it also creates huge uncertainty in all schemes, since if retrospective decisions are taken in one scheme, they may also be taken elsewhere.
I would also ask the Commission to make a general statement about the use of this mechanism of retrospectively changing qualifying criteria, and to indicate whether this is acceptable in other schemes. If so, I would ask that some relevant examples be provided.