When I stood before the European Parliament as designated Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries on 19 January 2010 I made a pledge:
- A pledge to reform the EU's Common Fisheries Policy; to bring fish stocks back to sustainability, stop waste, and bring decisions closer to those who are directly affected.
- A pledge to apply the same sustainability standards whether fishing at home or abroad, whilst making sure not to compromise on democratic principles and human
- A pledge to create a level playing field for our fishing industry by getting serious about compliance and combatting illegal fishing.
The same year, an unprecedented economic crisis hit Europe. The living standard of Europeans was affected and millions of people, oﬅen young, were leﬅ jobless. To me, these changing realities meant that my policy, both fisheries and maritime, took on more importance.
More than ever, every aspect of sustainability – social, economic, environmental – needed to be prioritised. Long term growth and quality jobs were the target. And so was born our 'Blue Growth' strategy which aims to tap into the growth potential stemming from our seas and oceans.
Read more about the 5 accomplishments I am most proud of here.
The European Commission has today adopted a series of discard plans as it gears up for the introduction of an obligation to land all catches on 1 January 2015. Discarding, the practice of returning unwanted fish back into the sea, is banned by the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which stipulates that fishermen will instead have to land everything that they catch. The five discard plans adopted today contain some practical rules, as well as a limited number of exemptions, to help fishermen implement the new rules.
In the light of the consequences of the Russian ban for EU fisheries products, EU ministers this week agreed unanimously to support Europe’s fishermen with flexibility in the use of their quotas. It was at Commissioner Damanaki’s initiative that this topic has been discussed with EU governments at this occasion in order to take action in these exceptional circumstances for Europe’s fishermen.
Commissioner Damanaki has announced during a Press conference the proposal tabled today by the European Commission, in its fight against illegal fishing activities worldwide, to ban imports of fisheries products from Sri Lanka to tackle the commercial benefits stemming from illegal fishing. The move comes after four years of intense dialogue with the country after which it could not demonstrate that it sufficiently addressed illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. In contrast, the Commission today confirmed that Belize, Fiji, Panama, Togo and Vanuatu, which had received warnings at the same time as Sri Lanka, have successfully taken measures to tackle illegal fishing. Consequently, the Commission proposes to lift the trade measures imposed in March this year against Belize.
Commissioner Damanaki said: "Our policy of resolute cooperation is yielding results. Five countries receive today our appreciation for getting serious on illegal fishing. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Sri Lanka. I hope that the message we are sending today will be a wake-up call for this country."
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of October 2014 took place in Luxembourg on 13th October 2014. It has been the occasion for Commissioner Damanaki to look back at the successful past years during which the new Common Fisheries Policy came into force, thanks to the good cooperation between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council.
Today, Commissioner Damanaki, together with Vice President Oettinger and MEP Bendtsen, met with representatives of companies developing wave energy technologies.
Commissioner Damanaki underlined their potential as one of the ocean energy sectors and the role they could play in helping the EU to achieve the renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets, innovate and create new, high-quality jobs. She encouraged the participants to actively participate in the work of the Ocean Energy Forum that has been created as a meeting place for industry, the public sector and stakeholders to discuss how to overcome the barriers to the development of the ocean energy sector.
Commissioner met today in Piraeus with Mr Simantonis, President of the Hellenic Shortsea Shipowners Association, Mr Terzis Vice-President and Mr Korres, Special Advisor. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss issues concerning the European Shortsea Network and the importance of clustering in light of the upcoming European Maritime Day that will take place in Piraeus in May 2015.
Ocean Energy: Commissioner Damanaki discussed quickest pathway to blue growth with ministers and sector
Commissioner Damanaki welcomed ministers and CEOs of leading ocean energy companies in Paris today 1st October for the first high-level meeting of the Ocean Energy Forum. This meeting heard the progress made by the working groups of the Ocean Energy Forum and assessed the issues to be tackled over the coming year.
In the framework of this meeting, Commissioner Damanaki stated: “While still a nascent sector, ocean energy has enormous potential. That’s why the European Commission created the Ocean Energy Forum as a meeting place for industry, the public sector and stakeholders to discuss how to overcome the barriers to the development of the ocean energy sector and help it on the path to full-scale commercialisation, while contributing to the renewable targets”.
The development of the emerging sector of Ocean Energy could help EU to achieve the renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets, but it could also fuel economic growth through innovation and create new, high-quality jobs.
The European Commission established the Ocean Energy Forum in April this year to provide a forum that brings together policymakers, the ocean energy industry and stakeholders to discuss the common challenges and obstacles to the further development of the ocean energy sector. The Ocean Energy Forum is to result in a Strategic Roadmap for the sector by 2016.
Commissioner Damanaki has met today with M. Yannis Moralis, the Mayor of Piraeus, in the framework of her mission to Greece. Among other topics of mutual interest, the discussions focused on the joint organisation of the European Maritime Day (EMD) in the city of Piraeus in May 2015.
Officially created on 20 May 2008, the EMD is celebrated annually across Europe to raise the visibility of maritime sectors and support an integrated approach to maritime affairs. This event welcomes Europe's growing maritime community, with industry professionals from across the EU joining policymaker to discuss, debate and exchange best practises. Participants come from ports, shipping industries, clusters, environmental associations, trade unions, scientific and research institutions, education, and local, regional, national and European authorities, amongst others.
A new European Directive to support Member States in their coordination of various activities that compete for space at sea takes effect today. Since many activities at sea – from fishing grounds, aquaculture farms and marine protected areas to maritime infrastructure such as wind farms, cables and shipping lanes - run across national borders, the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive will help Member States co-operate better, involve stakeholders in the process and avoid potential conflicts between the diverse uses of sea space.
Maritime affairs and fisheries
Commissioners Hahn and Damanaki welcome endorsement of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region by Europe's leaders
The European Commission has welcomed the endorsement today by EU leaders of the new EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR). Today's decision by the European Council gives the green light to the Strategy which was proposed by the European Commission last June.
Commissioner Damanaki met in Athens with the representatives of Europa Nostra in Greece on September 4. The meeting was held in the company the President Mr. Costas Stamatopoulos and the Vice-President Mr. Yannis Michail of Elliniki Etairia as well as with Mr. Miltos Lazoglou, country planner on the Sustainable Aegean Programme.
Together they raised issues on the delineation of the coastline, the implementation of the Maritime Spatial Planning as well as on the strategy on Coastal and Maritime Tourism. They also discussed further the importance of safe and environmentally friendly aquaculture.
Meeting with Ms Catherine Novelli, US Under Secretary for Economic growth, Energy and the Environment
Commissioner Damanaki met on May 8th for the first time with Ms Catherine Novelli, US Undersecretary for Economic growth, Energy and the Environment. Together they discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest, from the reform of the international dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy, to the Arctic policy and global ocean governance. Commissioner Damanaki also had the opportunity to exchange views with Under Secretary Novelli on blue growth and blue economy.
The Council has backed today the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The EMFF will help implement the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and provide financial support to fishermen, fish farmers and coastal communities to adapt to the changed rules. The Fund will also finance projects to boost 'blue' growth and jobs under the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP).
This endorsement of the EMFF comes at a right time when the European Commission has adopted yesterday the first of the 28 "Partnership Agreements" that set the strategies in EU Member states and regions for European Structural and Investment Funds, including the EMFF. The first agreement of its kind was signed on May 5th with Denmark and will pave the way for funding of structural policy. Now that the Council has also backed the EMMF, the allocation under Fisheries and Maritime policy will be finalised and published this summer.
On the signature of this first "Partnership Agreement" Commissioner Damanaki stated: "As with all of the other funds, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund is about investing in local communities to help them unlock the sort of growth and jobs which Europe needs and which the EU is committed to making a reality. We will not prescribe how every single cent should be spent; it is about letting those who know their craft, industry, and local regions best to work towards a sustainable future for their own communities – this is indeed the spirit of the new Common Fisheries Policy."
Find more information on the European Maritime and Fisheires Fund as well as on the first Partnership Agreement on using EU Structural and Investment Funds for growth and jobs in 2014-2020. Find also Q&As on Partnership Agreements.
Commissioner Damanaki paid a visit to the United States from Monday February 24th untill Wednesday February 26th, in the framework of the World Ocean Summit 2014 organised by The Economist. On Monday February 24th she attended the opening cocktail reception of the Conference, in the presence of Dr Jane Lubchenco and HSH The Prince Albert II of Monaco.
During her participation to this three-day event, the Commissioner highlighted the opportunities and challenges which come with unlocking sustainable growth from the world's oceans. She reiterated the European Commission's commitment to both economic sustainability and environmental sustainability in maritime policy.
On 25th February Commissioner Damanaki met with the co-chairs of the Global Ocean Commission Mr David Miliband and Mr José María Figueres, the former President of Costa Rica. Following opening remarks by HRH the Prince of Wales and John Kerry, US Secrtary of State, Commissioner Damanaki spoke at the World Ocean Summit in a session entitled "The Ocean as the new Economic Frontier?".
Find more information about the conclusions of the event here.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki
Commissioner Damanaki participated with President Barroso in the 6th European Summit of Regions and Cities in Athens organised by the Committee of the Regions, together with the Region of Attica on 7 and 8 March.
The objective of the Summit was to take stock of the efforts made at European, national, regional and local level to deliver job-rich recovery. The Summit also brought a high-level debate with European political leaders about the 2014 European elections and the future of the EU.
Commissioner Damanaki participated in the "All aboard!" action campaign calling for the reform of Common Fisheries Policy. Commenting on the ongoing negotiations and the Council taking place on 13th and 14th May, the Commissioner stated:
"Substantial progress has been made in the negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission’s proposal for a reformed common fisheries policy. The European Union is on the doorstep of a historical deal that would put fish stocks on the road to recovery, eliminate the wasteful practice of discarding and ensure that decisions are taken as close as possible to fishermen.
It is the responsibility of all institutions not to jeopardise a final deal because of disagreements over a few percentage points, one or two years, detailed technical rules or institutional power struggle. It is now time for both the European Parliament and the Council to make that extra final step towards each other that is necessary to come to a final agreement that will launch a new era of healthy fish stocks, viable fishing industries and more and better paid jobs for fishermen."
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with Mr Dimitris Avramopoulos, Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Athens.
Brussels, New York, Jerusalem, New Delhi, Khartoum, Bali, Manila, Sao Paolo...Worlwide. One Billion Rising.
As part of the global campaign urging people to stand up on 14th February to protest violence against women and children, Commissioner Maria Damanaki made the following statement to lent her support:
"I greatly support this worldwide campaign aiming to raise awareness on the grave issue of violence against women and children. One in three women report having experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. It is our duty to put an end to this. Respect for human rights, for human dignity and equal treatment for all are fundamental principle that concern every single one of us."
Commissioner Maria Damanaki took part in the New Year's celebration event organised at the European Commission Representation Office in Athens.