4.10.2021   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 401/18


Action brought on 13 August 2021 — Spain v Commission

(Case T-495/21)

(2021/C 401/19)

Language of the case: Spanish

Parties

Applicant: Kingdom of Spain (represented by: L. Aguilera Ruiz and M.J. Ruiz Sánchez, Agents)

Defendant: European Commission

Form of order sought

The applicant claims that the Court should:

annul Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2021/988 of 16 June 2021 excluding from European Union financing certain expenditure incurred by the Member States under the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) and under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), (1) (notified under document C(2021) 4118), in so far as it concerns the Kingdom of Spain in relation to the investigation concerning the paying agency of the Basque Country, file number AA/2018/003/ES/RLF, for a net amount of EUR 2 056 473,43;

order the Commission to pay the costs.

Pleas in law and main arguments

In support of its action, the applicant relies on two pleas in law.

1.

First plea in law, alleging that the flat-rate correction for a net amount of EUR 2 056 473,43 is contrary to Article 5 of Delegated Regulation (EU) No 640/2014 (2) and Articles 28 and 29 of Implementing Regulation (EU) No 809/2014. (3) The Commission made a manifest error in assessing a key control deficiency in the effectiveness of cross-checks and the quality of the geographic information system for agricultural parcels (SIGPAC).

The Commission confused the isolated discrepancies detected in a process of on-screen checking of photo-interpretation corresponding to the SIGPAC, and the subsequent in situ verifications relating to four parcels selected at random, with the results of planned on-the-spot checks, corresponding to verifications of parcels having an eligibility coefficient on a pro rata basis in 2016, 2017 and 2018, carried out as part of the action plan to improve the updating of the SIGPAC. Although they are separate and distinct operations, the Commission reaches a joint conclusion by extrapolating the results of both operations in order to apply the contested correction, which the applicant considers incorrect and disproportionate.

2.

Second plea in law, alleging that the Commission infringed the Guidelines on the calculation of the financial corrections in the framework of the conformity and financial clearance of accounts procedures (C(2015) 3675 of 8 June 2015), from which it is clear that the flat-rate correction imposed is unjustified, given that there were no deficiencies in the cross-checks and the risk to the Fund on account of deficiencies in the on-the-spot checks was quantified during the procedure. In addition to submitting that there was no deficiency in the cross-checks resulting in a risk to the Fund that would justify the correction applied, the applicant claims that, as regards the on-the-spot checks, the Commission applied the flat-rate correction without justification, since the risk to the Fund was individualised and quantified during the procedure.


(1)  OJ 2021 L 218, p. 9.

(2)  Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 640/2014 of 11 March 2014 supplementing Regulation (EU) No 1306/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to the integrated administration and control system and conditions for refusal or withdrawal of payments and administrative penalties applicable to direct payments, rural development support and cross compliance (OJ 2014 L 181, p. 48).

(3)  Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 809/2014 of 17 July 2014 laying down rules for the application of Regulation (EU) No 1306/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to the integrated administration and control system, rural development measures and cross compliance (OJ 2014 L 227, p. 69).