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2013: a decisive year to reform the fisheries policy

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© iStockphoto.com/vilainecrevette

(19/12/2012) After yesterday's vote in the European Parliament's fisheries committee, negotiations on the reform package will regain momentum in early 2013 with both the vote on the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) proposal in the Parliament plenary and, the subsequent vote on the EMFF proposal.

Trilogues between the Parliament and the Council are aimed at reaching a compromise on the whole reform package as soon as possible in 2013. This would allow the package to enter into force by 2014 at the latest. The sooner the reform package enters into force, the more likely it will be to keep the deadlines for reaching the targets of healthy fishing through maximum sustainable yield, and introducing the landing obligation for all fisheries throughout the Union.

Three Commission proposals for new laws are still under negotiation: the new CFP, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the Common Market Organization.

On the external fisheries policy pillar of the reform, both the Council and the Parliament have given their views in separate actions (in March and November 2012 respectively). Generally both institutions have endorsed the new approach proposed by the Commission, and the new policy approach is already being implemented by the Commission in its relations with international partners.

Ireland, which will hold the Presidency of the Council in the first half of 2013, has made the CFP reform the priority of their work in fisheries. Now that the PECH Committee has voted on the draft first-reading position on the CFP proposal the next stage will be the Plenary vote on this position in February. After this, negotiations between the institutions can start. The main aim of the Irish Presidency (on behalf of the Council) and the PECH Committee delegation (on behalf of the Parliament) will be to conclude an agreement between the two institutions, based on their respective positions. The Council has already defined its initial position on the CFP proposal in June 2012. The cooperation to reach such agreement takes place under tripartite meetings between the three institutions. These so-called trilogues are usually conducted in an informal framework, on the basis of the mandate of each institution.

The schedule for the new Fund is slightly lagging behind the CFP proposal. Council adopted its initial position at the October Council and the PECH Committee plans to vote on rapporteur Cadec's draft report and the amendments in March, with a vote in Plenary EP in May 2013. This is also an urgent file because the new Fund should enter into force on 1st January 2014.

The proposal on the common markets for fisheries and aquaculture products is the most advanced. Both Council and Parliament have indicated in their positions that they support the thrust of the approach taken for the future market organization. Compromises are under development, with the aim of finalizing the negotiations in early 2013.