Dáil debates

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Ceisteanna - Questions - Priority Questions

Land Parcel Identification System

9:50 am

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

The Deputy was a Minister and knows well it will not be reduced to nothing because there is an issue. We are in negotiations on it. The EU has not imposed the fine, it has made a claim this is what should be paid. To be clear, we have not paid anything yet.

The Deputy will be aware that the EU Commission, in its letter dated 14 May 2014, proposed a 2% flat rate financial correction for Ireland of €181.5 million arising from its conformity clearance audits in 2009, 2010 and 2012. The payments audited covered the period from 2008 to 2012, inclusive, during which over €9 billion was paid to farmers in Ireland under the direct payment schemes. I have always been opposed to the imposition of a flat-rate penalty, particularly in this case. I have strongly refuted the application of this proposed correction as disproportionate to the true level of risk involved and my Department accordingly sought a hearing with the conciliation body at European level.

The conciliation body met the Commission and officials from my Department on 9 December and 10 December, respectively. The Commission held its position on the 2% flat rate correction before and during its meeting and advised that it was still reviewing the information received from my Department in advance of the hearing. During their meeting, officials from my Department outlined Ireland's fundamental objection to the flat-rate correction and argued that the risk to the fund should be a calculated amount. My officials informed the conciliation body regarding the amount of work undertaken by my Department to identify and remove all ineligible features from the land parcel identification system, 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. The conciliation body acknowledged the amount of work done by my Department in the calculation of the risk and stated that it was of the opinion that the issue hinged on only a few, though important, elements of the calculations.

The report of the conciliation body concluded that conciliation seemed within reach and that the Commission and my Department should continue discussing the matter with a view to an agreed settlement. On foot of this advice, my 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 currently with the Commission for consideration and will be the subject of a Commission visit shortly. It is expected that the matter will be concluded in the near future.


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