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2011 Farm Subsidy Data Harvest: Millionaires and Missing Money

10 May 2011.

For the third year running, an international group of journalists, transparency activists and computer programmers gathered in Brussels for three days to gather and analyse new government data on who got what from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

So far, data on just €15.4 billion in payments made in the 2010 financial year have been published by EU member states, much less than the estimated €55 billion that was spent. This is because of a recent backlash against budget transparency triggered by the European Union Court of Justice, which in November 2010 ruled that the EU rules requiring disclosure of payment data relating to ‘natural persons’ was a disproportionate violation of the right to personal privacy. In response, the European Commission ordered Member States to stop publishing data and in April 2011 issued an interim regulation requiring them only to publish data on payments to ‘legal persons’ (companies and partnerships).

Of the 27 member states, all but six have released at least some data. The six that have not yet met the 30 April deadline are Cyprus, Greece, France, Luxembourg, Slovenia and the UK. However among those that have released data, a large amount has been kept secret, from an estimated 98 per cent of all farm subsidy spending in Ireland to around 25 per cent spending in the Netherlands. Four countries, Denmark, Hungary, Sweden and the Czech Republic have previously provided complete data, though the Czech Republic has since withdrawn some of the data it had published. Only three countries appear committed to budget transparency in the CAP, and have proceeded with publication despite the European Union Court of Justice’s ruling.

The total number of recipients disclosed this year is 563,133, receiving between them €15.4 billion. This is down from around 8 million recipients in the previous year, indicating that the vast majority of CAP recipients have been considered to be ‘natural persons’ by the payment agencies responsible for releasing the data. Once the remaining countries release their data it is expected that total disclosure will be less than half of the total CAP budget. The European Transparency Initiative is no longer achieving its key objective of transparency in end beneficiaries of EU funds.

In the data released so far there are 1330 payments of more than €1 million. The top recipient is the state-owned bank in Romania, and the second a state-owned water company in Portugal. State-owned enterprises, ministries and regional governments dominate the list of top recipients, with payments listed to the Xunta de Galicia (€45 million) and the Czech Ministry of Agriculture (€32 million). It appears that Member States are not observing requirement to publish end beneficiaries of EU funds, and are listing intermediaries instead. The end beneficiaries remain unknown.

In common with past years, there is no explanation of why each payment was made. The EU law on transparency does not require it. This point remains a major shortcoming of the transparency system and leaves the public guessing as to the reasons for the expenditure of EU funds.

Jack Thurston, a London-based policy analyst and co-founder of farmsubsidy.org, said:

“I have been pushing for transparency in farm subsidies for almost a decade. This year, thanks to a very poor ruling from the Court of Justice in Luxembourg, secrecy is back with a vengeance. I hope this is just a temporary setback and that the Commission will bring forward a new, improved transparency rules so EU citizens can know how their money is being spent: who gets what and why. Besides helping citizens to understand EU farm policy, transparency is an important additional safeguard against waste, fraud and abuse. I congratulate the governments of Denmark, Hungary and Sweden for their commitment to full transparency and encourage other countries to follow their lead.”

Nils Mulvad, an Aarhus-based data journalist, co-founder of farmsubsidy.org said:

“It’s just crazy the way governments are trying to keep this information secret. But we’ve worked hard to overcome all their blocking tactics and have made the data obtained available for anyone who wants to use it for journalism and research and analysis. There’s a lot less data than in previous years but there are definitely good stories to be found.”

Table 1: Top 20 recipients, by size of payment

Beneficiary Name Amount € Country
SC FONDUL DE GARANTARE A CREDITULUI RURAL - IFN SA 220,000,000 RO
EDIA - EMPRESA DE DESENVOLVIMENTO E INFRA-ESTRUTURAS DO ALQUEVA S.A. 103,070,334 PT
AZUCARERA EBRO S. L. 61,825,608 ES
XUNTA DE GALICIA 45,767,443 ES
JUNTA DE CASTILLA Y LEÓN 37,453,113 ES
VAS Lauku attīstības fonds 37,283,856 LV
A.O.P. F.IN.A.F. SOC. CONS. A R.L.  33,642,063 IT
Ministerstvo zemědělství 32,514,339 CZ
JUNTA DE EXTREMADURA 29,332,681 ES
SYRAL IBERIA, S. A. U. 28,821,933 ES
Ministerstvo podohospodarstva a regionalneho rozvoja SR 27,976,186 SK
COPERATIE COFORTA U.A. 26,285,764 NL
INSTITUTO TECNOLÓGICO AGRARIO DE CASTILLA Y LEÓN 26,224,551 ES
LOGISTIEKE EN ADMINISTRATIEVE VEILINGASSOCIATIE 25,593,878 BE
D. G. FONDO ANDALUZ DE GARANTIA AGRARIA 24,918,858 ES
Landesumweltamt Brandenburg 23,369,598 DE
DIRECÇÃO GERAL DE AGRICULTURA E DESENVOLVIMENTO RURAL 21,430,218 PT
Raiffeisen-Hauptgenossenschaft Nord AG 19,503,752 DE
GRUPPO MEDITERRANEO SOCIETACOOPERATIVA AGRICOLA  17,927,959 IT
Landesbetrieb für Küstenschutz Nationalpark und Meeresschutz 17,590,000 DE

Table 2: Top 20 recipients of direct payments, by size of payment

Beneficiary Name Amount € Country
GESBA - EMPRESA DE GESTÃO DO SECTOR DA BANANA LDA 6,163,727 PT
Bólyi Mezogazdasági Termelo és Kereskedelmi  Zrt. 5,612,800 HU
COMPLEJO AGRICOLA S. A. 3,906,850 ES
SC TCE 3 BRAZI SRL 3,667,365 RO
Agrar GmbH Gut Ferdinandshof 3,489,047 DE
Hortobágyi Természetvédelmi és Génmegorzo Nonprofit  Kft. 3,483,362 HU
CONAGRICAN S. L. 3,294,268 ES
CUMBRES DE GRAN CANARIA Nº 412/05 S. A. T. 2,830,138 ES
DEHESA NORTE, S. A.( DENOSA ) 2,764,439 ES
Dalmandi Mezogazdasági  Zrt. 2,653,132 HU
Südzucker AG Mannheim-Ochsenfu 2,680,421 DE
AYUNTAMIENTO DE ALDEANUEVA DE LA VERA 2,559,553 ES
Agrarunternehmen Barnstädt eG 2,435,237 DE
Agrar-Produkte eG Spornitz 2,598,776 DE
Enyingi Agrár  Zrt. 2,981,593 HU
LAJTA-HANSÁG  Zrt. 2,754,651 HU
HVG Hopfenverwertungsgenoss. e.G. 2,230,998 DE
KOMBINAT ROLNY KIETRZ Sp. z o.o. 2,086,371 PL
TOP FARMSUBCZYCE SP. Z O.O.  2,101,052 PL
S.C. COMCEREAL S.A. 2,461,893 RO

Table 3: Overview of data disclosed by country

Country Total amount € % of past year Beneficiaries % of past year
Austria 188,135,606 10 4,352 3
Belgium 222,244,658 20 6694 14
Bulgaria 520,431,909 69 5,780 7
Cyprus  -  - - -
Czech 990,278,362 100 26,969 100
Denmark 1,054,041,278 100 66,120 100
Estonia 393,488,399 3,773 10.9
Finland 105,732,202 9 3,073 43
France  -  - - -
Germany 1,995,714,587 27 12,732 3.5
Greece  -  - - -
Hungary 1,617,087,170 100 193,411 100
Ireland 80,289,881 4 375 0.3
Italy 545,373,509 9 191 0.01
Latvia 307,426,678 100 - close to 12,892 18
Lithuania 150,006,941 25.6 1,238 0.6
Luxembourg  -  - - -
Malta 4,279,394 2 61 0.2
Netherlands 893,772,762 75 40,399 44.5
Poland 626,803,456 21 8,246 0.5
Portugal 555,271,873 54 6,783 3
Romania 1,077,011,684 92 27,088 24
Slovakia 341,814,679 64 2,735 17
Slovenia  -  - - -
Spain 2,759,864,883 37 53,968 5.4
Sweden 995,695,846 100 86,253 100
UK  -  - - -
Notes to editors
  1. Farm subsidies under the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) amount to approximately €55 billion a year, just over 40% of European Union’s annual budget, or an average of just under €100 a year for each EU citizen.

  2. The aim of farmsubsidy.org is to obtain detailed data relating to payments and recipients of farm subsidies in every EU member state and make this data available in a way that is useful to European citizens. Farmsubsidy.org is a foundation-funded non-profit project run by a network of European journalists, researchers and activists.

  3. Farmsubsidy.org make its databases available under the Open Database License, which means you are free to use, remix and republish the data but you are legally required to: Attribute your use of the database to us, and Share your changes back with everyone else. Attribution costs nothing, but means everything to us. It’s up to you how to do it, but here are some possible formulations:

  4. Data provided by farmsubsidy.org or Official data collated by farmsubsidy.org

or Data source: farmsubsidy.org

  1. A detailed overview of the data for 2011 and past years is here.

  2. An XLS spreadsheet of the 1330 payments worth €1 million or more is here:

http://ftp.farmsubsidy.talusdesign.co.uk/millionaires2010.xls