EU Court of Auditors back organic as agri-environment scheme

In a report critical of many Member State agri-environment schemes, the European Court of Auditors has backed organic farming recognising that it is ‘demanding’ in terms of farm management, implemented over large geographical areas, with ‘well-document’ environmental benefits and should be considered as a third core element of future agri-environment programmes, complementing simple, generalised agri-environmental actions with a relatively low rate of aid and more demanding ac­tions attracting a higher rate of aid and targeted to EU-level priority areas.

The report Is agri-environment support well designed and managed?’ (Special Report 7/2011, ECA, Luxembourg) was published on 19th September 2011. Given the key role that agri-environment policy plays as part of EU policy to respond to society’s increasing demand for environmental services, the report aimed to assess whether the policy is well designed and managed. The Court found that the conditions for assessing whether or not the objectives of the policy have been achieved are not in place. The systems for providing guidance to farmers were generally well implemented. However, considerable problems were identified concerning the aid amounts. Most expenditure was made on basic horizontal schemes without applying selection procedures and without clear decisions about the desirable degree of targeting. Although the audit identified good practices, the weaknesses found by the Court have hampered optimal achievement of the main objectives of agri-environment policy, namely contributing to EU-level priority areas (biodiversity, water, climate change) and improving the environment and the countryside.

Given the critical overall tone of the report, the findings in support of organic farming can be seen as particularly encouraging and add further weight to the case that organic farming should play a more central role in the next phase of CAP reform.

Keep up to date with ORC updates and fundraising appeals

Be the first to hear about the latest organic and agroecological research and get tips to improve your success with organic farming and land management with the ORC e-bulletin. Delivered to your inbox monthly.

Newsletter signup

By submitting this form, you’re agreeing for us to contact you by email about our research, knowledge exchange, policy support and fundraising. Your details will only be used by the Organic Research Centre in adherence with our Privacy Policy.

You’re free to change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting our friendly Supporters Team at supporters@organicresearchcentre.com