Brussels Blogger

The European Commission today published Regulation 259/2008 which requires EU member states to publish information on agriculture subsidies in April of every year. A milestone in EU transparency. But hopefully further ones will follow.

The publication will be made via national websites and will provide essentially data such as the name, municipality and amounts received within the framework of the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

In addition, the European Commission will set up a website with links to the national websites.

I do welcome this Regulation, but I have two comments:

  • The system of national websites poses a problem of accessibility regarding languages. The regulation lacks any requirement of translation the website interface into for example of of the Commission working languages (EN,FR,DE). So, while major beneficiaries in Germany and France will quickly be published in most European newspapers, those of smaller member states might only face investogation by some national journalists.
  • The regulation contains some paragraphs about data protection. But it is not clear to me in how far the beneficiary could prevent its name from being published by the member states.

While transparency in the area of agricultural subsidies is very important, let’s not forget that there is still a lot to be done regarding the rest of the Community funding: The Commission has set up a website last year, with links to individual websites of EU programmes and DGs which would then publish further information about the beneficiaries of EU grants. This is for the moment far from being an accessible and citizen-friendly solution.

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