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:
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.