The Irish Farmers Journal understands that the European Commission is examining the issue of Irish land eligibility.

As exclusively revealed in last week’s Irish Farmers Journal, Ireland could be in line for a multi-million euro land penalty.

This is because European Commission auditors raised concerns over land claimed by Irish farmers for their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), which may not be eligible.

This follows a recent audit conducted by the Commission comparing satellite imagery and maps with on-farm visits.

A source in the European Commission confirmed to the Irish Farmers Journal the situation regarding Irish land eligibility and potential over claims is being examined at present.

However, they said they would not give any indication regarding the potential fine Ireland could be facing.

“We always apply the general principle of protecting the rights of the auditee by not disclosing detailed information until the end of the procedure.”

They added that the Commission does 100 audits per year, can claim back money in arrears if a country’s management and controls of CAP money are not deemed to be good enough.

Previous problem

In 2013, the Commission hit Ireland with a fine of €181m for claiming ineligible land. This was eventually negotiated down to one-third of that figure, with the Commission warning that it would take a much harder line should Ireland re-offend.

Farmers were forced to repay between €10m and €20m in BPS clawback but the State carried most of the bill.

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