A year-long review intended to simplify CAP greening measures has come to an end, with some measures introducing more flexibility and others spelling out new restrictions. 
 
The European Commission announced on Monday that the new rules resulting from the greening simplification process were now in force. EU countries must implement them in 2018 BPS applications, but may introduce some of them as early as this year.
 
The changes apply to tillage farmers, as those keeping their land under permanent grassland remain deemed to comply with greening requirements.
 
A review of the rules last year had found that farmers were struggling to comply with their complexity.
 
Flexibility
 
There are no longer deadlines for sowing catch crops, and each country can now determine the period permitted for crop diversification depending on local climatic conditions under new flexibility rules.
 
Most changes relate to the 5% of land that tillage farmers must designate as ecological focus areas (EFAs). Following a controversial vote in the European Parliament last month, farmers can no longer use any pesticides in those areas.
 
Farming organisations opposed this measure, arguing that it would make EFAs completely unproductive.
 
However, the conditions for land to be eligible as an EFA have been clarified. Seed mixtures will also be allowed as catch crops from now on.
 
No ‘real simplification’
 
On balance, the European farming body Copa-Cogeca has commented that the reform of greening as adopted “will not amount to a real simplification of current rules”.
 
Previous greening rules remain in force in Ireland until the Department of Agriculture notifies farmers of the implementation of changes in Ireland.