Commissioner Maria Damanaki, together with EU High Representative, Vice President Baroness Ashton, presented to the EU Foreign Affairs Council of Ministers the EU's Policy towards the Arctic that has been adopted by the Commission and reaffirmed the EU’s interest in becoming a permanent observer to the Arctic Council. Commissioner Damanaki said:
"The EU has established itself as a key supporter of the Arctic region. It has raised awareness of the impact that the change is having on the Arctic environment, but also of the potential for sustainable development in the Arctic region, for the benefit of both the local Arctic population and the EU. In this vein the EU is the world’s strongest proponent of greater international efforts to fight climate change, but also the greater contributor to research programs on sustainable exploitation of Arctic Resources. The EU is also a major destination of resources and goods from the Arctic region.
The recent joint Commission/High Representative Communication says exactly that the EU will:
- Support research and channel knowledge to address the challenges of environmental and climate changes in the Arctic;
- Act with responsibility to contribute to ensuring that economic development in the Arctic is based on sustainable use of resources and environmental expertise;
- Intensify its constructive engagement and dialogue with Arctic States, indigenous peoples and other partners."
Last week, Commissioner Damanaki travelled to Tromsø, Norway, where she presented the EU policy towards the Arctic at the annual Arctic Frontiers Conference.
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of January 2013 takes place in Brussels on 28 January 2013, under the presidency of Mr Simon Coveney, Irish Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Commissioner Maria Damanaki represents the Commission for Fisheries points on the agenda (Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, fisheries negotiations between EU and Norway and Multi-annual management plans).
At the end of the discussions, Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: "I welcome the level of ambition of the Irish Presidency. I am satisfied with the schedule that was presented and got the support of all Ministers around the table: if we keep that timing, at the end of the Irish Presidency, we will reach an agreement on a new Common Fisheries policy, which can be sustainable and profitable for the sector at the same time, creating growth and jobs."
On the proposal for a discard ban in the Skaggerak, she added: "This proposal is very important because, for the first time, a discard ban will become reality. I am looking forward to finalising all arrangements. We decided to go forward, progressing on regionalisation and giving to Member States the possibility to choose their own way to control the discard ban and to go for selectivity and avoidance measures. I hope that the outcome of these negotiations will underline our common commitment to go for a general discard ban as soon as possible."
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with Ms Sharon Dijksma, Dutch Minister for Agriculture.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki co-signed the statement " Seafood Traceability: A Key to Sustainable Livelihoods, Durable Trade and Secure Communities " together with the other Members of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Oceans.
The Statement calls for the urgent development of Global systems for tracing the origins of fish products “from bait to plate”, to ensure that wild-caught seafood and other fish products are legal, healthy, fully traceable and accurately labelled.
The members of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Oceans also recommend that industry and civil society work together with policy-makers worldwide to develop and implement such a system as soon as possible, as a means to achieve sustainable fisheries, durable livelihoods, profitable trade and secure coastlines.
Commissioner Damanaki meets Mr Planas Puchades, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment of the Autonomous Government of Andalucía
Commissioner Maria Damanaki met with Mr Luis Planas Puchades, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment of the Autonomous Government of Andalucía.
A new agreement for the management of shared fish stocks in the North Sea has been concluded between the European Union and Norway at the end of the negotiations that took place in Clonakilty, Ireland. The total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for the shared stocks in the North Sea were set and an agreement on the exchange of reciprocal fishing possibilities in each other's waters was also reached.
The third round of negotiations for a new protocol to the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement which took place in Rabat, ended this evening.
It was agreed that the next round will take place in Brussels on 30 January through 1 February.
MEP Catherine Bearder presents to Commissioner Damanaki petitions of school children calling for sustainable fishing
Ms Catherine Bearder, Member of the European Parliament, presented to Commissioner Damanaki the petitions she received from school children in her constituency regarding the conservation of fish. The petitions call for stopping the practice of discards, ending harmful subsidies and rewarding those fishermen who fish sustainably.
Commissioner Damanaki welcomed the petitions and emphasized the key role that EU citizens can play in supporting the on-going reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
The European Union and Ivory Coast agreed today on a new Protocol to implement the EU-Ivory Coast Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The protocol provides the EU with fishing opportunities for tuna and other highly migratory species, based on a reference tonnage of 6.500 tons. In return, the EU will pay Ivory Coast an annual compensation of €680.000, out of which €257.500 is earmarked to support the fisheries policy of Ivory Coast. European vessel owners will pay increased advance payments to fish in Ivory Coast waters.
This protocol will reinforce cooperation between the two parties, especially in their fight against IUU fishing. Sectoral support has been significantly increased to take into account the situation of the fishing administration in Ivory Coast after the civil war and help it to take on its international obligations in term of port sate control. Control of fishing activities will be improved thanks to the use of vessel monitoring system (VMS) and electronic logbooks. Both parties committed to fully respect all recommendations made by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). The protocol also includes a clause on the respect of human rights.
The Protocol will be valid for 5 years and will replace the current one, which expires on 30 June 2013. The Member States with an interest in this protocol are mainly France and Spain.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki
"On 27th January we commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. This is a day to pay tribute to those who suffered and died under the Nazi-fascist regimes; but also an occasion to express our firm commitment to eradicate racism and fight against discrimination. Today we have the antidote to these scourges: it is strengthening democracy. Democracy means dialogue and inclusiveness; the respect of human rights and human dignity are at its foundation. It is our duty to nurture democracy, to be alongside those who fight for their political and human rights, in Europe and elsewhere, to protect the rights of minorities. In the difficult times that Europe is facing at the moment, when our society's fabric is under strain, we must to act in solidarity and remain vigilant so that those same ideas that led to the horrors of the past are not tolerated."
Commissioner Maria Damanaki is meeting today in Athens the Greek President of Republic, Mr Karolos Papoulias. After the meeting, Commissioner Damanaki made the following statement:
"I informed President Papoulias on the developments happening at the European Union level and the future of Greece in it. The overall climate is better, because we managed to avoid the worst. However, now it's the time for Greece to act. The Greek political forces ought to develop and implement an action plan for growth in the country, for a serious public administration, for tax efficiency and for the banking system. These, we cannot and we should not expect our lenders to do. For these to become reality, we need time and composure. We need the contribution of all political forces, to the extent that amounts to each one of them. A political consensus at least to a minimum. I believe that the political system can stop the violence and ensure conditions for smooth and fruitful political dialogue."
The European Commission has published this week a review on Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2012, highlighting that the five-year crisis has resulted in the highest levels of unemployment, unprecedented youth unemployment levels, a new rich and poor country divide, a weakening of social protection benefits and persisting gender pay gaps across the EU.
The crisis did not have a uniform impact across the whole population and has led to an even worse situation for groups already at heightened risk, notably young adults, children and migrants, contributing to social polarisation. The review also demonstrates that women face higher risks of poverty or exclusion than men: EU27 average reaches 25.2% for women compared to 23% for men. A skills mismatch is also evident, especially in the South, with a need for skills in growth sectors such as the green economy and information and communications technologies.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki will address tomorrow the Greek Association of Women Academics in Athens discussing, inter alia, the need for inclusive social policies in the context of the economic crisis.
Maritime affairs and fisheries
Commissioner Maria Damanaki was in Norway to present the EU policy towards the Arctic. She metwith Mr Espen Barth Eide, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Carl Bildt, Swedish Foreign Minister and Chair of the Arctic Council, and Ms Leona Aglukkaq, Canadian Minister of Health and of the Northern Economic Development Agency and incoming Chair of the Arctic Council
Commissioner Damanaki delivered a keynote speech at the Arctic Frontiers 2013 Conference, which took place in Tromsø. She also attended the signing Ceremony of the Agreement between the Arctic Council Secretariat and the Government of Norway.
" The Arctic: an EU Perspective " - Commissioner Damanaki's speech at the Arctic Frontiers 2013 Conference
" The Arctic: It is time for us to take action " - Read and comment on Maria Damanaki's blog
On fisheries policy, Ms Damanaki met with the Norwegian Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, Ms Lisbeth Berg-Hansen.
The College of Commissioners is in Dublin to meet the members of the Irish Government and discuss the priorities of the incoming Irish Presidency of the European Union. After a plenary session, Commissioner Maria Damanaki discussed priorities in the field of fisheries and EU Integrated Maritime Policy with the relevant Ministers.