Despite the introduction of the single payment scheme, set-aside was retained as a production control measure as part of the 2003 CAP reforms. The Government have already signalled our view to our EU partners that constraints on production such as set-aside should be eliminated as part of the 2008 CAP reform health check.
A number of minor amendments and clarifications were included in the Set-aside Handbook and Guidance for England—2007 update which was sent to all SPS applicants in November. A recently adopted EU regulatory change on set-aside penalties will also be applied under the 2007 SPS.
Looking to 2008 and beyond, consideration is being given to achieving a better alignment between set-aside management conditions and Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition 12 (eligible land not in agricultural production). Final decisions on that initiative and any further suggestions for change will take into account Commissioner Fischer-Boel's recent comment that the future of set-aside will be considered as part of the 2008 CAP reform health check.