Administering the Common Agricultural Policy in Bulgaria and Romania: obstacles to accountability and administrative capacity

AuthorKelly Labar,Martin Petrick,Insa Theesfeld,Doris Marquardt,Gertrud Buchenrieder,Stefan Wegener
Publication Date01 September 2011
Date01 September 2011
Review of
International Review of
Administrative Sciences
77(3) 583–608
Administering the Common
! The Author(s) 2011
Reprints and permissions:
Agricultural Policy in Bulgaria
DOI: 10.1177/0020852311407362
and Romania: obstacles to
accountability and administrative
Stefan Wegener
Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central
and Eastern Europe (IAMO), Germany
Kelly Labar
Ferdi (Fondation pour les Etudes et Recherches sur le
Developpement International), France
Martin Petrick
Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central
and Eastern Europe (IAMO), Germany
Doris Marquardt
Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central
and Eastern Europe (IAMO), Germany
Insa Theesfeld
Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central
and Eastern Europe (IAMO), Germany
Gertrud Buchenrieder
Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central
and Eastern Europe (IAMO) and Martin-Luther-Universita¨t
The introduction of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union
was an important step for Bulgaria and Romania. However, their administrative capacity
for managing CAP instruments is still evolving, and they face challenges in delivering
services that are crucial for implementing the CAP measures. This article, based on
Corresponding author:
Stefan Wegener, Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO),

International Review of Administrative Sciences 77(3)
semi-structured interviews among key actors, explores administrative obstacles. The
analysis is structured according to the two complementary concepts of accountability
and administrative capacity. The findings show that the main accountability problems are
related to a complex administrative structure and to the large number of smallholders,
which necessitates greater administrative efforts than in established member states.
Moreover, due to a lack of representative farmers’ associations, farmers, and particu-
larly small farmers, have no clear means to voice their concerns. The main problems
concerning administrative capacity are related to deficient data collection and process-
ing, over-centralized decision-making, and limited coordination among agencies.
Points for practitioners
To improve the delivery of services in new member states such as Bulgaria and Romania,
the CAP should pay greater attention to the specific conditions of transition countries,
such as their high share of smallholders. It should be determined whether some respon-
sibilities could be devolved to lower administration levels, e.g. by decentralizing deci-
sion-making authorities. Moreover, integrated agricultural offices should be established
to house front office agencies in the same buildings, a more comprehensive and tailored
system of human resource management should be developed, and the outreach of
farmers’ associations should be further advanced and facilitated.
accountability, administrative capacity, Bulgaria, Common Agricultural Policy, public
service delivery, Romania
Bulgaria and Romania adopted the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with their
accession to the European Union (EU) in 2007, which was an important step
because agriculture still plays a vital role in these countries. For instance, the
share of inhabitants living in rural areas is about twice as high as in the established
EU member states (EU-15).
The new member states were required to set up appropriate administrative
structures to implement the various agricultural policy measures of the CAP.
Front of‌f‌ice services crucial for implementing CAP measures include advisory ser-
vices, grant application administration, and the settlement of subsidy payments to
farmers. Back of‌f‌ice services are also necessary, and they include for instance data
collection and processing.
Bulgaria and Romania face several challenges in delivering such services. First,
the administrative capacity to manage CAP instruments is still evolving. Second,
new formal rules, such as CAP measures, lead to substantial changes in adminis-
trative procedures within the administrative bodies. Civil servants often face high
transaction costs in terms of time, meetings, and memos, as they become
acquainted with new policies and build new procedures. Often the consequence

Wegener et al.
is bureaucratic inertia, which further hampers the implementation (Theesfeld et al.,
Despite the progress that had been made in building administrative capacities
during the years preceding accession, evaluations of the general (not CAP specif‌ic)
administration and policy-making stressed the need for even greater ef‌forts. For
instance, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD;
2005a, 2005b, 2006a, 2006b) underlined failures in the capacity for strategic plan-
ning, questioned the sustainability of some reforms in terms of human resources
management, and highlighted a still weak civil service.
The question arises as to what the underlying impediments are and how admin-
istrations currently cope with the challenge of implementing new procedures and
policies connected to the EU accession in 2007. For instance, existing evaluations
analyze the leverage ef‌fect of the EU accession on the general reform processes in
Bulgaria and Romania and how domestic factors such as powerful veto players
inhibit reforms (Noutcheva and Bechev, 2008). Andreev (2009) discusses some of
the general remaining challenges, arguing that Bulgaria and Romania are incapable
of adequately completing the Europeanization process due to their unf‌inished polit-
ical and socioeconomic transformations. However, the number of studies analyzing
such transitional administration issues in Bulgaria and Romania is rather limited.
Moreover, to the knowledge of the authors, there are no studies that analyze the
pertinent constraints of the CAP administration in Bulgaria and Romania. Thus,
the question remains: how can obstacles in the emerging CAP administration be
Because many dif‌ferent agencies and actors are involved in each of the various
administration levels and the number of new policy measures is high and diverse
in character, it is beyond the scope of any study to deliver a detailed analysis of
each and every administration procedure of the CAP. Therefore, the aim of
this article is to provide a general but comprehensive overview of the main obsta-
cles for administrative service delivery in the Bulgarian and Romanian CAP
The study is structured along two complementary concepts: accountability, as
def‌ined in the World Development Report 2004 (WDR, 2004), provides an initial
framework for analyzing interactions between administrative bodies and citizens
involved in the actual delivery of particular administrative services. Second, attrib-
utes of key organizations at dif‌ferent administration levels are assessed using the
concept of administrative capacity. Following Verheijen (2007) and Sun and
Gargan (1993), three dimensions of administrative capacity are distinguished in
the applied framework, namely policy, people, and systems.
These concepts provide the structure for analyzing the provision of services to
applicants for CAP measures and within the administration. By exploring and
analyzing the identif‌ied obstacles, the article gives an overview of the public admin-
istration in Bulgaria and Romania and their CAP implementation. In addition to
secondary data and document analysis, the article draws on an empirical study
commissioned by the World Bank1 that was based on semi-structured interviews

International Review of Administrative Sciences 77(3)
among key actors in administrative service delivery; the interviews were conducted
in January 2009 (Labar et al., 2009).
The article is organized as follows: First, the relevance of the CAP is brief‌ly
described in the context of Bulgaria and Romania, and the respective organiza-
tional structures of the CAP implementation are depicted. Second, the analytical
concepts for assessing the main obstacles for administrative service delivery are
presented, and thereafter the survey design is outlined. Sections three and four
present the obstacles for administrative service delivery as identif‌ied in the empir-
ical study. The last section summarizes the main results and suggests how the
management of the CAP might be improved.
CAP implementation and administrative structures
in Bulgaria and Romania
The two pillars of the CAP
The CAP covers two main instruments. The f‌irst pillar of the CAP is related
to agricultural market and income support, which consists principally of direct
payments to farmers. The second pillar is the Rural Development Program,
which contains more diverse measures such as investment aids for farmers,
environmental programmes, or infrastructure funding for village renewal. These
instruments are the responsibility of the Ministry for Agriculture, Forest and
Rural Development in Romania and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food in
Under the f‌irst pillar, Bulgaria and Romania opted for a simplif‌ied version of
direct payments – the Single Area Payment Scheme (SAPS2) – instead of imple-
menting the Single Payment Scheme in the same fashion as the established EU
member states. The SAPS can be applied for a maximum period of f‌ive years before
the Single Payment Scheme must be implemented. Under the SAPS, an annual
lump sum per...

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