EU threatens to cut aid to Greek farmers

The European Commission warned Greece yesterday it faced a cut of 10 percent in EU farm subsidies unless Athens improves controls on the way the funds are being spent. EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel has sent a letter to the Greek authorities warning them that «we’ve started a procedure which could lead to us reducing Greece’s agricultural payments by 10 percent,» her spokesman said. It could see subsidies cut by 200-300 million euros (318-477 million dollars), said spokesman Michael Mann. At issue are a range of questions concerning how Greek authorities carry out checks and controls on farmland and animals, criteria used to decide on amounts of aid farmers get from the Greek government, which is then reimbursed by the EU on a yearly basis. «There is a real danger that Greece will not reach its target of setting up its system completely and effectively by the end of this year,» Mann told journalists in Brussels. A final decision on the aid cut could come after another audit by the EU planned for September. Last week, the Commission said it would recover 410.3 million euros of farm payments from the EU’s 27 governments because of inadequate control procedures or non-compliance with the bloc’s rules on agricultural expenditure.