European Fisheries Fund enhanced the competitiveness of EU fleet and created 17,000 new jobs

European Fisheries Fund enhanced the competitiveness of EU fleet and created 17,000 new jobs

European Fisheries Fund enhanced the competitiveness of EU fleet and created 17,000 new jobs


A recent independent study of the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) points to some success in supporting the fisheries sector during the past programming period (2007-2013). The evaluation also identifies areas for improvement, in particular in terms of impact and sustainability. Most of these shortcomings are already being addressed in the ongoing program, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (2014-2020).

What results were achieved?

The EFF enhanced the competitiveness of the EU fleet by supporting the modernisation of the remaining fleet, improving fishing ports and landing sites, increasing the added-value of fish products with investments in marketing and processing, and supporting local development in fisheries-dependent areas. Furthermore, the EFF contributed to an increase in fuel efficiency and selectivity of fishing methods.

The EFF is estimated to have created approximately 17,000 jobs and maintained many more over the programming period, mainly in the processing sector and through the Community-Led Local Development initiative, which has also been an important source of investments towards improving the quality of life in fisheries-dependent areas.

The EFF funding was particularly important in sustaining the aquaculture sector during the economic downturn, although EU aquaculture production increased less than global aquaculture production over the programming period. Nevertheless, the EFF supported competitiveness in the aquaculture and processing sectors, and its contribution proved highly relevant especially in times of crisis.

Between 2007 and 2015, the capacity of the EU fishing fleet decreased by 17.5% (in gross tonnage), of which more than half (53%) was decommissioned with financial support from the EFF. However, the evaluation finds that reductions in the fleet may not have been long-lasting and structural. The evaluation further concludes that the EFF contribution to the sustainable exploitation of fisheries is unclear, given that sustainability is largely the result of fisheries management measures.

Who benefited from the EFF?

The EFF supported over 134,000 operations, including 92,000 targeting fishing vessels owners or crew members. Other types of beneficiaries included Small and Medium Enterprises, aquaculture farmers, producers' organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations, port authorities, etc. 11,500 operations were supported by Fisheries Local Action Groups to the benefit of the local community in fisheries-dependent areas.

What will the European Commission do in response to the findings?

Many issues raised by ex-post evaluation of the EFF have already been addressed in the EMFF (2014-2020), but a number of specific points will be further addressed in the years to come.

For instance, the European Commission will:

  • Continue to foster synergies between the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the other European Structural and Investment Funds and LIFE, and to report on progress made;
  • Reinforce the linkage of the EMFF with the Common Fisheries Policy by supporting the exchange of good practices on projects using the EMFF to facilitate the implementation of the Landing Obligation, as well as projects related to data collection and control.
  • Under the EU Action Plan for Nature, People and the Economy, facilitate full and effective use of the financial resources allocated for biodiversity protection and Natura 2000 sites in the period 2014-2020 under EMFF and, where feasible, promote increased allocations and uptake;
  • Under the EU Action Plan for Nature, People and the Economy, facilitate Member States' use of existing financing opportunities for projects related to Nature Directives' implementation and biodiversity protection under EMFF, on the basis of lessons learnt and identified best practices, as well as of existing guidance and policy (2018-2019);
  • Continue to identify and implement simplification measures during the current programming period;
  • Ensure data quality and coherence to strengthen monitoring of EMFF.
  • and to reflect on the way forward.


The EFF was established to replace the previous structural support programmes – the Financial Instruments for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) in place since the early 1990s – in the 2007-2013 programming period. The EFF was launched at the onset of the global economic and fuel crises, which had a strong impact on the fisheries sector: reduced access to private finance, stronger public expenditure control, increased financial and economic pressure on the fisheries sector, a decline in demand for fisheries products, and stagnating or falling prices. This background influenced the implementation of the EFF, which had been designed before the inception of the global crisis.

In 2007, 4.3 billion euros of EU funds were allocated to the Member States through individual Operational Programmes. By the end of the programming period, 90% of this amount had been transferred to beneficiaries, although de-commitment throughout the programming period reduced the final disbursement to just over 4 billion euros.