Swedish farmers received the aid for their pastures between 2005 and 2007 after the EU introduced a new type of subsidy called “single farm payment”, agronomist Lars-Erik Lundkvist of the Federation of Swedish Farmers (Lantbrukarnas riksförbund – LRF) told AFP.
But the criteria to qualify for the aid were confusing, primarily because of “an unclear definition of what constitutes pasture”, Lundkvist said.
As the Swedish government interpreted the regulations differently than the EU Commission, farmers received money to which they were not entitled.
The dispute was mainly between the government and the commission so the state will repay the majority of the funds, but around 10,000 farmers will have to dish out about 300 million kronor.
“We think that sounds like a lot of money,” Lundkvist told AFP.
He said some of the farmers may appeal the decision.
Sweden received a total of €947 million in EU farm subsidies in 2008, approximately €12,977 per farm.
Among the top regional recipients were Skåne with €173 million, Västra Götaland with €147 million, and Östergötland on €71 million.