CONSERVATIVE MEP FOR SCOTLAND

Potential EU farming fines must not hit Scottish farmers

Scottish Conservative MEP Dr Ian Duncan will tomorrow meet EU Farming Commissioner Phil Hogan to discuss the ongoing crisis caused by the Scottish Government's handling of the payment of EU farm subsidies.

19.05.2016.

Scottish Conservative MEP Dr Ian Duncan will tomorrow meet EU Farming Commissioner Phil Hogan to discuss the ongoing crisis caused by the Scottish Government's handling of the payment of EU farm subsidies.

Audit Scotland today highlighted 'serious cost and operational issues' with the payment system developed by the SNP Government. If full payments to farmers are not completed by the 30 June, the Scottish Government will be in breach of EU law and risk fines in excess of £100m.

The EU Commissioner will be in Scotland this week undertaking a series of engagements.  Dr Duncan will be meeting with the Commissioner to explore what steps can be undertaken to avoid the imposition of serious fines on the Scottish Government.

Commenting, Ian Duncan MEP said,

"The Scottish Government's mishandling of the development of a system for making payments to farmers has been little short of a scandal, a fact laid bare by today's Audit Scotland report.  It is clear not only that the costs are out of control, but that the scope of the system has had to be curtailed.  In short it is costing much more and delivering much less. It is lose lose for farmers, many of whom are still unclear how much they will be paid, and when the payments will be made.

"The Scottish Government's priority must now be to pay farmers in full as soon as possible, and restore financial liquidity to the sector. However, the prospect of EU fines of up to £125m must be taken seriously by the Scottish Government.

"I have been in touch with Commissioner Hogan over the last few months seeking options to help beleaguered Scots farmers. On each occasion the Commissioner has responded positively, allowing for split payments, and post payment auditing.

I will be meeting the Commissioner tomorrow during his visit to Scotland and will explore with him options to mitigate, moderate or avoid any potential fines.  Scottish taxpayers should not be further punished for the incompetence of the Scottish Government.

Dr Duncan added:

"It is clear that the Scottish Government has taken its eye off the ball on this issue, and they must work hard to ensure that the uncertainty being experienced by farmers across Scotland comes comes to an end."
 

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. Details on the Audit Scotland report can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-36320952
2. Ian Duncan is Conservative MEP for Scotland, and also chairs the ECR's Rural Economy working group, which looks at all aspects of economic activity in rural areas.