Thank you, Madam Director General, and thank you Ambassador Wills, for your ambition and dedication to moving us towards a meaningful agreement on fisheries subsidies, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 14.6.
On your first question, the EU is fully committed to reaching an agreement as soon as possible before MC12. We agree that safeguarding global fisheries resources is a shared responsibility. And we share the view that this multilateral agreement is the right way to address the issue of harmful subsidies.
We see the text as a genuine attempt to find a balance in light of the divergent positions. The EU believes that the current text can be the basis for an agreement. It contains many elements for landing zones.
Some improvements are needed, however. For instance, recognising the role of fisheries management measures in rebuilding overfished stocks is important, because fisheries management works!
Furthermore, access agreements that are based on sustainability and transparency should not be prohibited. Fuel is also an issue that affects many WTO Members and the text still requires further work in this respect.
On your second question, this agreement will certainly need to include special and differential treatment. We see three relevant elements:
First, it must be based on actual needs for flexibility in terms of how to implement a multilateral agreement. Over time, the same rules should apply to all.
Second, the negotiated outcome must provide clarity on which country and which type of fishing can benefit from flexibility. This list should be set out in black and white as part of the agreement.
Third, we agree that vulnerable fishers in developing countries could benefit from some type of flexibility. But this cannot mean a blanket carve-out.
Avoiding this is difficult, since we do not have a workable and widely accepted definition of artisanal or livelihood fishing. Therefore, we want to underline that the geographical scope of any flexibilities for livelihood fishing cannot go beyond territorial waters or 12 nautical miles.
In addition, we consider that making an exception of this nature permanent, as opposed to transitional, risks undermining the future of both fish stocks and coastal communities.
In closing, let me reiterate that in the negotiations, we need to focus on what matters – namely, eliminating harmful subsidies. This includes all subsidies to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, as well as subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. The EU is ready. And all WTO members need to contribute – I think we all agree on this. Time is not on our side, so we need to intensify our discussions from here on, in the run up to MC12.
Thank you, Director General.