`Decision Against Greece Upheld for CAP Violations - Olive Oil Times

Decision Against Greece Upheld for CAP Violations

May. 21, 2013
Michael Angelopoulos

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The Court of Justice of the European Union last week upheld an April 2011 deci­sion by the European Commission, decid­ing that Greece failed to adhere to the European laws and reg­u­la­tions regard­ing the sub­si­dies paid to olive tree farm­ers.

Specifically, Greece did not oper­ated a reli­able mech­a­nism that would pro­vide all the nec­es­sary tools for record­ing, updat­ing and con­trol­ling olive and olive oil pro­duc­tion.

Greece used a costly Geographical Identification System (GIS) with a photo data­base dated back in 1997 and 1998 — even as the more accu­rate Google Maps ser­vice was free dur­ing the period. In addi­tion, Greece did not make ad hoc and on-ground inspec­tions as it should have done. Moreover, when vio­la­tions by farm­ers or olive mills were dis­cov­ered the coun­try did not impose any sanc­tions as required by EU pro­vi­sions.

Ten per­cent of the sub­si­dies for the period 2003 – 2004 and 15 per­cent for the period 2004 – 2005 paid to olive tree farm­ers must be rescinded, stated the Commission.

The Commission found that expen­di­tures rel­e­vant to the instal­la­tion of the dig­i­tal plat­form, sup­port­ing GIS and con­trol oper­a­tions, were unfounded.

The Commission’s hard-line accom­pa­nied direct accu­sa­tions that Greece has not com­plied with EU CAP reg­u­la­tions, and stiff penal­ties for what it called repeat offend­ing.”

Greece, has acknowl­edged the exis­tence of some dis­crep­an­cies, how­ever it claimed that the case described by the Commission was not entirely accu­rate. As for the cost of tech­ni­cal infra­struc­ture, Greece sug­gested that a large part of the cost was cov­ered by the farm­ers them­selves.

The Court order did not accept any of the argu­ments made by Greece. Instead, the coun­try will see approx­i­mately $320 mil­lion of its CAP financ­ing go to bal­ance the over-fund­ing.

Some ana­lysts believe that Greece might have stood a slight chance if it had taken some cor­rec­tive actions after the ear­lier deci­sion of the Commission.

Greece used an ex-ante argu­men­tum” approach try­ing to jus­tify what was already ver­i­fied by the Commission as anom­alies. They had the oppor­tu­nity to estab­lish a reli­able sys­tem and prove ex-post their case – after the deci­sion of the Commission. Greece could have proved that even with a reli­able sys­tem its financ­ing would be at the same level,” one ana­lyst said.

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