The new rules, which came into force on 22 May 2018, will allow data from the EU’s Copernicus Sentinel satellites and other Earth observation data to be used as evidence when checking farmers’ fulfillment of requirements under the CAP for area-based payments (either direct payments to farmers or rural development support payments), as well as cross-compliance requirements. Other new forms of evidence such as geo-tagged photos, information from drones and relevant supporting documentation from farmers, such as seed labels, will also be acceptable for the first time, as part of a broader shift towards a so-called ‘monitoring approach’ that will lead to a decrease in the number of on-farm checks. Visits to the field will only be necessary when the digital evidence is not sufficient to verify compliance.
Competent authorities may carry out checks by monitoring. Where they elect to do so, they shall:
(a) set up a procedure of regular and systematic observation, tracking and assessment of all eligibility criteria, commitments and other obligations which can be monitored by Copernicus Sentinels satellite data or other data with at least equivalent value, over a period of time that allows to conclude on the eligibility of the aid or support requested;
(b) carry out, where necessary, and in order to conclude on the eligibility of aid or support requested, appropriate follow-up activities;
(c) carry out checks for 5% of the beneficiaries concerned by eligibility criteria, commitments and other obligations which cannot be monitored by Copernicus Sentinels satellite data or other data with at least equivalent value, and are relevant to conclude on the eligibility of aid or support. Between 1% and 1,25% of the beneficiaries shall be selected randomly. The remaining beneficiaries shall be selected on the basis of a risk analysis;
(d) inform beneficiaries about the decision to carry out checks by monitoring and set up appropriate tools to communicate with beneficiaries on at least warning alerts and evidence requested for the purposes of points (b) and (c).
For the purposes of points (b) and (c), physical inspections in the field shall be carried out when relevant evidence, including evidence provided by the beneficiary at the request of the competent authority, does not allow to conclude on the eligibility of the aid or support requested. Physical inspections in the field may be limited to checks of eligibility criteria, commitments and other obligations that are relevant to conclude on the eligibility of the aid or support requested.
The competent authority may decide to apply checks by monitoring at the level of the individual area-related aid scheme or support measure or type of operation or to defined groups of beneficiaries subject to on-the-spot checks for the greening payment.
In the first two years of application, the competent authority may decide to apply checks by monitoring to beneficiaries of an aid scheme or support measure in areas chosen on the basis of objective and non-discriminatory criteria. In such cases the areas subject to checks by monitoring in the second year of application shall be greater than in the first year of application.
SOURCE: European Commission website