All EU countries have now been offered the option to extend by one month the deadline by which farmers must submit their applications for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments, the European Commission announced on Tuesday (17 March).
Member states can now choose to push back their applications until June 15, 2020, instead of May 15, 2020.
The decision comes amidst the global outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), which is now widespread across the EU, and the extension is designed to give farmers more flexibility in these unprecedented circumstances.
In a statement on their website, the Commission said that “following an initial request from the Italian authorities facing an unprecedented crisis in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak and the overall difficult situation faced by the European Union, the European Commission has decided to allow member states to offer an extension of one month for the deadline for farmers to submit their applications for direct payments and certain payments under rural development.”
The move comes after Italy’s agriculture minister, Teresa Bellanova, asked the EU executive Commission for a postponement of some of CAP’s administrative procedures to relieve Italian farmers stricken by the novel coronavirus emergency.
In a letter sent to the Commission on Monday (2 March), Bellanova wrote that the “hardship the farming sector is going through is clear and we must do everything to loosen the grip that squeezes businesses and workers.”
The extension is applicable to all eligible farmers in the EU, but it is the responsibility of each member state to decide whether to make use of the offer or not.
In order to extend the deadline by one month, the Commission is currently preparing the legal steps to be taken to allow a derogation from current rules.
Farmers must file their applications to receive CAP income support each year before national authorities process the applications and ensure the necessary checks.
The Commission said that they are “working on all fronts” to support member states facing the COVID-19 outbreak.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]