NEWS

Readying for new CAP

Reorganization is an absolute must at the Ministry for Agricultural Development and Food, given that early next year the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) comes into force. Though directives for the new CAP were drawn up in June 2003, there has been no preparation for implementing the new rules that will change how subsidies are paid, much to the ministry’s dismay. Three committees have been set up to make proposals for the reorganization of administration and the implementation of the CAP, to be examined in the fall. At the end of October, according to the ministry, a bill will be ready that will include all legislative amendments necessary both for CAP regulations and to fulfill the government’s pre-election pledges to the farming sector. One measure is the setting-up of Agricultural Development Centers in every prefecture to advise farmers and fill the gap between the ministry’s central services and prefectural services. According to ministry sources, the ministry’s administrative departments are being reviewed from scratch, which could involve the abolition of old departments and the establishment of new ones. The final decision will belong to the minister, Savvas Tsitouridis. Managing subsidies Another administrative problem is the splitting of powers between various ministry departments which often have no communication with each other. Computer companies that are to set up the databases for the management of subsidies received instructions from eight different departments. Tsitouridis has ordered the cancellation of any competitions for the data banks. The latest idea is to have the departments set up their own databases rather than contract them to outside firms. These have to be fully operational by early 2005. Farmers will then be paid subsidies on that basis; the difference is that subsidies will aid specific producers, rather than specific crops. A department reporting directly to the minister is to be set up to implement the CAP and coordinate all services involved. It will contain staff from the permanent Greek delegation in Brussels, who will be recalled to Athens since they have useful experience, as well as experts invited by the ministry a year and a half ago. The second committee is studying the legislative amendments needed in order to adapt Greek law to EU directives as required by the new CAP. According to a ministry official, six EU directives (on environmental terms to be fulfilled before subsidies can be given) have to be introduced in order to implement the «multiple conformity» measure in the CAP that comes into force on January 1, 2005. These directives actually fall under the jurisdiction of the Environment and Public Works Ministry, but recently the Cabinet decided the issue will be dealt with by the Agricultural Development Ministry for the sake of speed. The third committee is examining the changes to the law necessary to enact measures for farmers promised by the government during the election campaign. The three committees’ work will have to be completed by fall so that legislation can be passed by the new year.