The European Parliament voted on Wednesday to support a simplification of CAP and a cutting of red tape for farmers.

MEPs supported plans which will see farmers below 10ha exempted from CAP scheme inspections and CAP scheme payment penalties, although these farmers will still have to abide by cross-compliance rules.

As many as 28,000 Irish farmers could benefit from this rule change.

Wednesday’s voting, which was the last round of voting the current Parliament will have before June’s European elections, also supported cutting back on certain good agricultural environmental condition (GAEC) farmers must follow to receive CAP payments.

The measures were approved by a majority of 425 votes in favour, 130 against and with 33 abstentions.

The proposals now only need formal sign-off from member states, which have already given the plans their backing, to kick in for farmers.


It will allow member states more flexibility to cut back on some calendar farming rules for the tillage sector and allow them to ease CAP requirements around GAECs.

Member states are to be permitted to allow tillage farmers choose whether to comply with either a crop rotation or crop diversification rule.

The vote also opens up the possibility of temporary derogations being issued by member states if farmers are struggling to meet these rules in cases of challenging weather conditions.

Tillage farmers are to see the CAP’s 4% space for nature requirement scrapped and replaced with a ban on removing non-productive features.

The changes were proposed by the European Commission earlier this year as part of its response to widespread farmers protests over issues including the regulatory burden placed on farmers.

Government decisions needed

Fianna Fáil MEP for Ireland South Billy Kelleher has stated that it is now up to Government to make use of the flexibilities granted by the EU.

“The Irish Government must immediately make a decision to make use of the flexibilities that have now been agreed at European level to support Irish farmers,” Kelleher said after the vote.

The MEP called for further work to ease the burden regulations place on their activities in the next European Parliament.

“This is an important first step. It is now accepted at EU level that farmers face tough regulatory burdens and intense and often off-putting conditionalities while doing their job of growing the food Europe relies on,” he commented.

“In the next term of the European Parliament, a full review of the CAP is planned. This acceptance of the need to reduce the regulatory burden on farmers needs to be carried through.”