EU Fisheries Council meets on future European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council of EU Ministers met on 25 September in Brussels, on fisheries issues.  Under the presidency of Mr Sofoklis Aletraris, Cypriot Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Ministers held a public debate on the Commission's proposal on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund 2014-2002. The new Fund will help deliver the ambitious objectives of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and will help fishermen in the transition towards sustainable fishing, as well as coastal communities in the diversification of their economies. The fund will finance projects that create new jobs and improve quality of life along European coasts. Red tape will be cut so that beneficiaries have easy access to financing. This fund will replace the existing European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and a number of other instruments. The proposed envelope amounts to € 6.5 billion for the period 2014 to 2020. The Cypriot Presidency plans an orientation debate based on a number of questions in order to seek Ministers' position in view of a partial general approach at October's Council.

Intervention by Commissioner Maria Damanaki

Dear President, dear Ministers,

You have put two questions to the Ministers for our discussion on the EMFF. I am here today to hear all views on the issues identified in the Presidency questions.

Let me start with the first question concerning flexibility between the different headings in shared management.

We have given you a proposal with minimum amounts for data collection and control. Our proposal foresees that you earmark at least 6 % for data collection and scientific advice and at least 8 % for control. These figures were based in our service calculations.

What I would like to know is what you think about these figures. Do you have good arguments for different figures? If you have made other calculations that justify a different approach, I would be very interested to hear about them, so that we can discuss on that basis. But I still believe we need to ring-fence an amount of money for science and control. This is the heart of the new scientific-based approach, we have already adopted in unanimity.

What is also important is that in the end we have an EMFF that can deliver the reform. This means implementing the discard ban achieving MSY, basically what is in the Council General approach. So again I would like to know what you are looking for in concrete terms, when you talk about having more flexibility.

Let me now come to the second question on additional measures such as scrapping and engine replacement.

Here I would like to inform you about some figures we received from Member States on their spending on fleet measures under the current EFF.

These figures show that Member States have on average spent 11 % on scrapping vessels, around 4% on temporary cessation and 0,2% on engine replacement. Some Member States who are now calling for temporary cessation, to be funded in the future, have not used this measure at all in the current period.

My proposal for the future measures is on the table and I would like to know what your counter proposals are in concrete terms? For example do you think that a fleet segment should receive funding for scrapping and modernisation at the same time? Are there Member States around the table who would see this as a contradiction?  I see this as a contradiction. I am interested to hear your views here.

Some among you argue that you need more money to scrap fishing vessels. To me that means that you have overcapacity at least in some fleet segments. If that is the case, then I would need to receive concrete figures from you on which segments are concerned. Also how many vessels we are speaking about. So far I have not received any figures from you to this end so how can I be convinced of the necessity of scrapping aid without this underlying assessment?

The second question refers to engine replacement. I would like to once again invite you to send us your reports on the measurements of engine power. The deadline to deliver the reports runs out end of December and we are still waiting for reports from Member States.

Let me at the end say something about the IMP part of the funding proposal. There seems to be an illusion among some Member States that it is possible to cut the IMP part in the funding proposal in order to increase the fisheries funding. I need to draw your attention to the danger here. If you speak out in favour of cutting the IMP spending you pass the message that the EMFF does not need that much money after all. I have fought hard last year to secure a sufficient amount for our fund and I don't want us to loose a part of it. This is what I fear will happen if you argue for reducing the IMP part.

So to sum up I am interested to hear your views on the presidency questions and the questions that I have passed to you.

Thank you.

Last update: 17/04/2013 |  Top