The introduction of measures to streamline the new CAP support measures will be a relatively straightforward process, according to EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan.

“Everyone agrees that we need to simplify a number of the detailed measures put in place as part of last year’s CAP reform package,” he said.

“We don’t need to go back to the drawing board in order to achieve this. But what I do need is ideas from grass roots farming organisations and other stakeholder groups on this matter.”

Hogan was speaking at a press conference in Belfast earlier today, at which he confirmed his intention to publish draft legislation on the matter of stream lining the CAP before the end of this year.

“Secondary legislation is all that’s required in this instance, so this will not be a drawn out process. The mid-term review is a separate matter entirely. These discussions will get underway in 2017.”

Hogan admitted that the commission recognises the widespread confusion that now exists at farm level regarding the detailed implementation of the new Pillar 1 CAP support measures.

“Where greening is concerned, for example, farmers will not be penalised if breaches are identified in single payment applications submitted this year,” he said.

“I am also aware of the deep unease felt by farmers regarding the current inspection criteria. The fact is that only 5% of farms are inspected every year. But when it comes to breaches being identified, I expect a proportionate response to be demonstrated by the inspecting authority.

“Yes, penalise heavily if fraudulent activity is confirmed. But I also expect inspecting authorities to show a high degree of understanding if an innocent mistake has been made on the part of a farmer. Gold plating of EU regulations serves no good purpose whatsoever.”