Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia Press Release - 15 March 2018

Money down the drain: Court of Auditors Report calls out ‘inherent limitations’ of CAP Direct Payments 

Yet again, the European Court of Auditors has examined the Common Agricultural Policy and found it wanting, its latest report confirming that EU taxpayers’ money is being wasted on direct payments.

Today’s special report from the European Court of Auditors on the EU’s ‘Basic Payment Scheme for farmers’ delivers yet another damning assessment of the CAP from the body responsible for checking if the EU budget has been soundly implemented. Most notably, the report confirms the “inherent limitations” of direct income support for farmers, which bears no relation to farmers’ income needs or to the level of public goods that they provide.

This assessment entirely confirms the findings of the independent ‘Fitness Check’ of the CAP conducted by scientists last year, which questioned the effectiveness and efficiency of basic ‘per hectare’ payments to farmers – which, by their very nature, are not linked to farmers’ income needs, nor to the level of public goods that they provide.

The report further criticises the lack of operational objects or measurable baseline from which to judge the performance of direct payments, recommending that this must be introduced for the next CAP. Crucially, it also confirms that direct, or untargeted payments, have no place in a ‘results oriented’ CAP.

As such, the conclusions support Birdlife Europe’s position that public money must instead be geared towards farmers that already protect the environment and deliver other public goods, and support farmers who are currently farming unsustainably to transition out of the broken system.

The Court of Auditors also insisted that to ensure value for taxpayers’ money in the next CAP, the Commission must assess all the appropriate factors to ensure that income support goes to those actually in need, such as income from other revenue streams, which is currently not included in the Commission’s calculations.;

Harriet Bradley, EU Agriculture & Bioenergy Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe: “Attempts to make per hectare payments fairer have only complicated matters – and without the consolation of having clear impacts. It therefore shows that – as with greening – the whole architecture is defunct and needs a radical restructuring if it is to meet today’s environmental and socio-economic challenges in farming or deliver value for taxpayers’ money.”

For further information, please contact:
Harriet Bradley

EU Agriculture & Bioenergy Policy Officer

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia

+ 32 478 88 73 02


BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organisations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to deliver high impact and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that compose BirdLife International. Based in Brussels, it supports the European and Central Asian Partnership and is present in 47 countries including all EU Member States. With more than 4100 staff in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of skilled volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 nature sites totalling 320,000 hectares.