The European Commission has agreed to allow national governments to make advance payments to farmers in order to help those affected by the difficult climatic conditions in the first part of 2017.
Adverse climatic conditions in some member states – droughts and extremely hot or dry weather in some parts of Europe, as well as very low temperatures in spring combined with heavy rainfall in other parts – have affected agricultural activities in many countries and had a significant impact on farm revenues.
The agreement covers direct payments and certain rural development payments for farmers, which are usually allocated by member states as of 1 December and until 30 June of the following year. Member states can however choose to pay advances on these payments from 16 October in any given year, up to a maximum of 50% of the total amount for direct payments and 75% for rural development payments. The Commission’s decision now allows member states affected by the adverse conditions to increase the maximum of the advance payment to 70% for direct payments and 85% for rural development payments.
The changes will benefit ten member states (Belgium, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Portugal and Finland), the most affected by the adverse climatic conditions. These ten countries asked the Commission for flexibility with payments because of the impact of the poor weather conditions, and after verification of the conditions, the Commission agreed to the request.
The list of eligible countries could be extended by a further two or three, depending on the outcome of ongoing assessments by the Commission that will evaluate if they too are considered eligible on the basis of adverse climactic conditions.
It is now up to the eligible countries to decide whether or not they will take advantage, if they are able to, of this easing of the rules on advanced payments.