Negotiations continue on proposed €181m fine by EU after payments audit

Discussions continue with a view to an agreed settlement between Ireland and the EU Commission, on the latter’s proposal of a 2% flat-rate financial correction for Ireland of €181.5 million, arising from its audits of Direct Payment Schemes for farmers in Ireland in 2009, 2010 and 2012.

This followed an EU Conciliation Body opinion last December that conciliation seemed within reach. Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said his Department outlined to the Conciliation Body Ireland’s fundamental objection to the flat rate correction, and argued in favour of a calculated amount correction.

“My officials informed the Body regarding the amount of work undertaken by my Department to identify and remove all ineligible features from the LPIS database, the technical improvement in the LPIS system, and the time and resources used by my Department to address all issues raised by the Commission.

Since then, the Department has maintained regular contact with the Commission with a view to bringing the matter to a conclusion.

“Further work has recently been carried out to quantify the level of risk to EU funds, and this information is with the Commission for consideration,” said Mr Coveney.

Responding in the Dáil to Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív, Mr Coveney said the payments in question audited by the Commission covered the period from 2008 to 2012, during which over €9bn was paid to farmers in Ireland under the Direct Payment Schemes.

“I have always been opposed to the imposition of flat-rate penalties and particularly so in this case. I have strongly refuted the application of this proposed correction as disproportionate to the true level of risk involved and on this basis my Department sought a hearing with the Conciliation Body.”

Conciliation bodies mediate between the EU Commission and the member states in the event of disagreement over an accounts clearance decision.

A conciliation body is usually composed of a president and four members, independent experts from different member states.


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