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Agriculture

Commission extends flexibilities of Common Agricultural Policy checks for 2021

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With restrictions still in place across the EU, the Commission has adopted rules to extend to 2021 flexibilities for carrying out checks required for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) support. The rules allow the replacement of on-farm visits with the use of alternative sources of evidence, including new technologies such as satellite imagery or geo-tagged photos. This will ensure reliable checks while respecting the restriction of movement and minimizing physical contact between farmers and inspectors.

Furthermore, the rules include flexibility around timing requirements for checks. This allows member states to postpone checks, notably to a period when movement restrictions are lifted. In addition, the rules comprise a reduction of the number of physical on-the-spot checks to be carried out for area and animal-related measures, rural development investments and market measures. These rules aim to ease the administrative burden of national paying agencies by adapting to current circumstances while still ensuring necessary controls for CAP support. More information on the CAP's management and control systems is available here. More information is also available here.

Africa

Agriculture: Commission approves a new protected geographical indication from South Africa

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The European Commission has approved the registration of 'Rooibos'/'Red Bush' from South Africa in the register of protected designation of origin (PDO). 'Rooibos'/'Red Bush' refer to the dried leaves and stems cultivated in the Western Cape Province and in the Northern Cape Province, a region which is known for its hot dry summers and cold wet winters. ‘Rooibos'/'Red Bush' has developed some unique characteristics to adapt in this harsh climate and presents fruity, woody and spicy flavours. It is harvested each year during the hot summers and is sun dried just after harvesting. The tea court process is often described as an art form and is one of the most critical parts of the ‘Rooibos'/'Red Bush' production process with specific know-how and expertise required.  The use of the dried leaves and stems of ‘Rooibos'/'Red Bush' as a tea was first documented almost 250 years ago. Since then its fruity, sweet taste has resulted in it being a cultural icon of South Africa. There are currently 262 geographical indications from non-EU countries registered. More information in the eAmbrosia database and in the quality schemes pages.

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Agriculture

Commission approves approximately €46 million Romanian scheme to support the activity of cattle breeders affected by coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved a more than 225 million RON Romanian scheme (approx. €46m) to support the activity of cattle breeders in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State Aid Temporary Framework. Under the scheme, the public support will take the form of direct grants to partially address the loss of income the cattle breeders suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found that the Romanian scheme is in line with the conditions of the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the aid does not exceed €225,000 per beneficiary active in the primary agricultural sector provided by the Temporary Framework; and (ii) the scheme will run until 31 December 2021.

The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3) (b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the scheme under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.62827 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Agriculture

Commission publishes results of evaluation of EU state aid rules for agriculture, forestry and rural areas

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The European Commission has published a Commission Staff Working Document summarizing the results of an evaluation of the state aid rules for the agriculture and forestry sectors and for rural areas. The evaluation was carried out as part of the ongoing review of the state aid rules for agriculture, forestry and rural areas, namely the Agricultural Block Exemption Regulation, and the 2014 EU Guidelines for state aid in the agricultural and forestry sectors and in rural areas. The evaluation concludes that, overall, the rules under scrutiny work well are broadly fit for purpose. In this respect, they largely meet the needs of the sectors concerned, while also contributing to the achievement of broader EU policy objectives, such as environmental protection as well as animal and, more generally, public health. At the same time, the evaluation revealed that the existing rules need certain targeted revisions, including clarifications of some concepts, further streamlining and simplification, as well as adjustments to reflect the EU current priorities, in particular the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the European Green Deal. The Commission will take the results of the evaluation into account when reviewing the existing rules. The Commission will proceed with the impact assessment phase of the review, to look into the issues identified during the evaluation, with a view to having revised rules in place by 31 December 2022 when the current rules will expire. A full press release is available online.

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