- 27 Feb 2019
Date received: 25 Jan 2019
Date responded: 22 Feb 2019
- Any documentation outlining analysis of the risk of penalties charged by the European Commission for not complying with regulations following missed common agricultural policy payments in 2017 and 2018.
- Any correspondence between Fergus Ewing and Scottish Government officials discussing analysis of the risk of penalties charged by the European Commission for not complying with regulations following missed payment deadlines (correspondence dates: 1/1/17-25/1/2018).
- An assessment made by the Scottish Government of anticipated penalties by the EC, as a result of missed payment deadlines.
I enclose at Appendix A a copy of a briefing note showing Scottish Government’s analysis of the likely late payment penalties that will be charged by the European Commission.
I enclose at Appendix B a copy of any correspondence between Fergus Ewing and Scottish Government officials discussing analysis of the risk of penalties. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption(s) under section(s) s.28(1) (Relations within the UK), s.29(1)(a) (formulation of Scottish Government policy), s.30(b)(1) (Free and frank provision of advice) and s.32(2)(a)(2) (Relations between UK and any international organisation or court) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained in the Annex to this letter.
The Scottish Government’s assessment of Scotland’s share of anticipated penalties is £5m for payments in 2016, £0.35m for 2017 and nil for 2018.
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION
An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.
Exemptions under section s.28(1) (Relations within the UK), s.29(1)(a) (formulation of Scottish Government policy), s.30(b)(1) (Free and frank provision of advice) and s.32(2)(a)(2) (Relations between UK and any international organisation or court) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. These exemptions apply as the correspondence contains details of ongoing discussions between the Scottish Government, other UK administrations and the European Commission. It would be prejudicial to these discussions to release the details.
These exemptions are subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is some public interest in release because of the impact on taxpayers of any penalties applied. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring the discussions being held are conducted in good faith and obtain the best outcome for the UK as a whole and for Scotland.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House