WOB value

European Union

 
26/02
2011

EU: Nordic trio put farm-data in the open - in spite of court decision

Who gets what support, a critical question before an upcoming reform of the agricultural policyy

Denmark will tell who gets what farmsubsidies from the EU – to all those who ask. Finland and Sweden have taken the same approach.

No fresh data on EU-payments to farmers has yet been released in Denmark. The European Court of Justice in November last year banned such disclosure on the Internet.
But new Danish data will come if you ask for them, according to civil servants at Fødevare Erhverv (the Danish Board of Agriculture). Representatives of the Board tell this website that they will stick to the same policy regarding transparency as before the decision of the ECJ.

A request for names and figures of the 100 largest Danish beneficiaries will be treated positively, we are told.The same message has been transferred to the website Farmsubsidy which has been publishing data from different European countries for several years.
»We have been told there will be business as usual,« says Nils Mulvad from Farmsubsidy.org

 

The Danish approach – although still to be proven – follows the line already taken by Finland and Sweden.
Finnish authorities were quick to remove the lists of recipients from their websites after the ECJ-judgement. This was also the case in Sweden and Denmark
But in the start of February the Ministry of Agriculture in Helsinki gave access to data on subsidies paid out for the year 2010.
This was widely reported in the media. Helsingin Sanomat, a leading daily, for example told the names of the 10 top beneficiaries and how much money they have received (see document to the right).

As for Sweden Jordbruksverket (the Board of Agriculture) released 2010-data already on December 1 last year, the very same day the money was handed out to the farmers.
The Magazine Lantbruk & Skogsland (Farms & Forests) could thus publish a national list of the 38 top recipients – all those given more than 2 million Swedish crowns (approximately 219 000 €) in the Single Payment Scheme for that year.

 

A common trace for the three Nordic countries is a strict but limited addhoarance to the decision of ECJ on web-publishing. No data on farmsubsidies are available on official websites any longer, as this is regarded as a kind of EU-domain governed by the desiscion of the EU-court in Luxembourg.
But the understanding in Denmark, Finland and Sweden is that he ECJ-decision does not prevent the authorities to stick to the their national rules of access to documents.
The result is that subsidy data are not published on official web sites, but the data are open to access to those who ask.

 

This policy can be seen as an example of a Nordic transparency culture finding a way when faced whith a more restricted set of rules in the EU-system.

It is also a part ot the picture that Sweden, Denmark and to a lesser extent Finland, are in favour of deminishing the large subsidy schemes to farmers in the EU; contrary to for example France, Italy and Spain. The schemes and other parts of the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) cost about € 55 billion per year.
For the Nordic governments it doesn’t harm forthcoming negotiations if the public get to know who benefits from the present rules, and how the subsidies are paid out.

 

 

Staffan Dahllöf

 
 
 
 

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