22 million euro:

Europe: FresQ has to repay unjustified CAP subsidies

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg returned a verdict on the CAP subsidies, which was returned to grower's cooperation FresQ. According to the Court the subsidy was justly revoked. It concerns over 22 million Euro. 

The case is from 2011 and is officially between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the European Commission. In 2011 the European Commission decided that the GMO subsidy awarded between 2006 and 2008 was unjustly awarded and so will be reclaimed. This concerns 22,691,407 Euro in total, which was awarded through the Ministry and PT to FresQ. Holland asked to the European Court to nullify the decision of the European Commission. This did not happen. 

The first point of discussion is the printing of packaging. According to Holland this is sales improvement and can be subsidised, but according to the Commission this is general production costs and does not need CAP. The Court has confirmed this. "The printing costs approved by the Dutch paying agency are not eligible for support," was the conclusion.

Own sales
Besides this, the operational programme of FresQ has been revoked of finance for the sales season 2004 to 2007. According to the Commission FresQ should not have received subsidisation then, as they did not meet the basic requirements for CAP recognition. According to the Commission a number of subsidiaries only sell the production of only one grower and large horticultural companies such as Seasun and Harting-Vollebregt take care of their own sales. Officially, the sales were through the subsidiaries, but in reality the members arranged it themselves, the commission found.

The Netherlands objected to this on various points, but these have all been rejected.

The Court cannot conclude whether the grower decides on the sales and prices of their own cultivation, but can also not conclude that they do not. The Court doubts whether FresQ plays a decisive role in the sales and pricing. FresQ therefore did not meet the conditions for recognition and subsidisation. 

"As it has been confirmed the FresQ did not meet all the conditions a union is required meet according to the European Union's regulations to be recognised as a growers union, it did not qualify for funding and all expenditures of this growers union must be revoked of funding," the Court concludes.

The funding has been revoked with this verdict and the reclamation remains justified. The question is who will take the blame. The Dutch government believes that the Dutch authorities behaved adequately in the case. The PT has already indicated that it is only an executive party. FresQ did not comment.

Holland can still appeal against the verdict.

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