The Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) has expressed its concern that the European Commission’s proposal for the post-2020 EU budget fails to realize the long-term vision and ambition required to shape Europe’s future.
The CPMR welcomes the Commission’s proposals to introduce new own resources, which are in line with the CPMR’s own proposals, and notes that the budget is roughly at the same level as the current MFF, despite the financial gap that will be left by Brexit.
Instead of the EU budget reflecting a rise in the number of priorities that need to be tackled at European level, it is more of an internal redistribution of funding away from ‘traditional’ policies, such as Cohesion policy, to new ‘priorities’.
The CPMR is concerned by the absence of vision for Cohesion Policy in the proposals and the lack of mention of Cohesion policy being the investment policy for Europe.
It is deeply worried that the European Social Fund (ESF) will be a standalone fund in the budget and will lose its territorial dimension, meaning that Cohesion policy will be unable to reinforce social, economic and territorial cohesion.
In addition, the CPMR is alarmed that the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) is being reduced by 15%. This drastic cut undermines the objectives of the European Commission for this fund, including delivering sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
It has also noted that the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which supports transport investment, would be reduced to represent less than 2.5% of the EU Budget, despite the need for infrastructure to improve the accessibility of peripheral and maritime regions. As Cohesion policy has been severely reduced in the Commission’s proposal, it cannot be assumed that it will fill the gap in the CEF’s budget.
CPMR Secretary General Eleni Marianou said: “We note that the European Commission has proposed an EU budget at the same level as the current MFF, despite the financial impact of Brexit. Introducing new own resources will also enable the EU to go beyond the ‘juste retour’ approach. However, the proposals are not ambitious enough to address both traditional and new EU priorities at an appropriate level.”
CPMR President Vasco Cordeiro, said: “The Commission’s EU budget proposals meet neither the expectations or the needs of the European Union. The proposed budget cuts key policies for our regions, including Cohesion Policy and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, are very worrying and will only drive the EU further away from its citizens.”
Fishing rules: Compulsory CCTV for certain vessels to counter infractions
By 401 votes in favour, 247 against and 47 abstentions, MEPs agreed to use new technologies to better enforce fishing rules and improve security and transparency. They also insist that consumers must know when, where and how the products they buy are caught.
The use of on-board cameras (CCTV) to carry out checks on landing obligations should be compulsory for a “minimum percentage” of vessels longer than 12 meters and which have been identified as “posing a serious risk of non-compliance”. The equipment will also be imposed as an accompanying sanction for all vessels that commit two or more serious infringements. Vessels that are willing to adopt CCTV on a voluntary basis should be offered incentives such as additional allocation of quotas or having their infringement points removed.
MEPs back the proposal to harmonise sanctions and demand that a “European Union Register” of infringements be set up to centralise information from all member states. They also call for an “appropriate system of sanctions” for infringements committed by recreational fishermen.
Reduce waste, increase security and transparency
In line with the EU’s Farm-to-Fork Strategy, Parliament demands that the origin of fishery and aquaculture products must be traceable throughout the whole food chain, including processed and imported products. Data on the species of fish, the location, date and time it was caught, and the type of gear used should be made available.
lara AGUILERA (S&D, ES), rapporteur, said: “We took important steps towards having common rules. Inspections on fisheries in Spain must not differ from those in Denmark, Poland or Italy. They must be harmonised and more efficient, without resulting in more red tape for the sector.”
In an effort to reduce marine litter, MEPs agree that all vessels should be obliged to notify national authorities when they lose fishing gear and to carry on board the necessary equipment to retrieve it.
All vessels should also be equipped with a geolocation device allowing them to be automatically located and identified, a measure deemed necessary to improve security at sea, according to the adopted text.
Parliament also proposes to increase the margin of error accepted on the weight of some species estimated by fishermen on board (margin of tolerance).
With today’s vote, Parliament is now ready to start negotiations with Council. According to the current proposal, operators would have four years following the entry into force of the rules to equip vessels with the new technologies required.
On 5 February, the Committee on Fisheries adopted its position regarding the EU’s Fisheries Control system. The proposal updates five existing regulations and harmonise control and inspection systems, as well as sanctions, across EU countries.
- Adopted text will be available here (11.03.2021)
- Video: Statement by the rapporteur Clara Aguilera (S&D, ES) and extracts from the debate (available 11.03.2021 around 12h45)
- Procedure file
- Press release following adoption by committee: Modernising EU fisheries control system (05/02/2021)
- Legislative Train
- EP Research Service briefing
- Committee on Fisheries
Britain secured a good deal on fish, says senior member of negotiating team
Fisheries groups have criticized the deal, saying the industry had been sacrificed in the post-Brexit trade talks.
“The deal we’ve got recognises UK sovereignty over our fishing waters, it says that up front,” the senior member of the negotiating team said.
“We think this is a good deal. This enables the fishing industry to rebuild itself during the transition, we are investing £100 million into programmes to help modernize the fish processing industry over this period,” he said.
AGRIFISH Council: Ministers decide fishing opportunities for 2021 in the North-East Atlantic and for deep-sea stocks
On 17 December, the Council agreed on fishing opportunities for 2021 for the fish stocks managed by the EU in the North-East Atlantic, based on a proposal made by the Commission. As regards stocks that will be shared with the UK, The Council also decided as a transition measure to proportionally roll over the 2020 total allowable catches (TACs), with a few limited exceptions, as proposed by the Commission. This will ensure fishing opportunities in the exceptional circumstances surrounding the still ongoing negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. These measures complement the Commission's contingency proposal from last week, which provides for the possibility of reciprocal fishing access by EU and UK vessels to each other's waters, if and when agreed between the EU and the UK, and all conditions for the continuation of the EU fishing operations have been met.
Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “I am very pleased that for the stocks the EU is managing on its own, we have brought eight total allowable catches in line with the levels that guarantee the maximum sustainable yields from those stocks. EU ministers have followed my proposals on the precautionary approach for nine fish catch quotas. This is a step in the right direction. The Commission proposal was very ambitious and I welcome today's overall good outcome. We have also managed to respond to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and secure continued fishing for all EU fishermen and women. Vessels can take to the sea on 1 January 2021 and the fishing sector can be reassured that their business is recognized as a priority for the EU.”
The Council has also decided on sustainable catch limits for southern seabass (Bay of Biscay) in line with maximum sustainable yield (MSY). The Council has continued the protection of the vulnerable deep-sea sharks through a prohibition of fishing of this species. In line with the Commission proposal, the Council has agreed to set very limited bycatch for cod in Kattegat (123 tonnes), and roundnose grenadier in Skagerrak and Kattegat (5 tonnes), and a scientific TAC for nephrops in the southern Bay of Biscay (2.4 tonnes). More information is available Commissioner Sinkevičius' press statement and online.
Based on the Commission's proposal, EU ministers agreed fishing opportunities for 2021 for the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. Sinkevičius said: “In line with our political commitments made in the MedFish4Ever and Sofia Declarations, we implemented in EU law ambitious measures taken in the context of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM). On the Western Mediterranean multiannual plan, I regret that ministers were not ready to agree on higher effort reductions, which would have allowed us to restore the fish stocks to sustainable levels faster and to ensure the long-term social and economic viability of the fishermen and women operating in the region. I welcome, however, that the effort reduction will be accompanied by additional national measures to protect the stocks."
For the Mediterranean, the regulation agreed by ministers continues the implementation of the EU multiannual management plan for demersal stocks in the Western Mediterranean, adopted in June 2019, by reducing the fishing effort by 7.5%. The Regulation also introduces measures adopted by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean in 2018 and 2019, in particular measures for eel, red coral, dolphinfish, small pelagic species and demersal stocks in the Adriatic and deep water shrimps stocks in the Ionian Sea, Levant Sea and the Strait of Sicily. For the Black Sea, the quotas for turbot and sprat are maintained at the 2020 level. More information is available Commissioner Sinkevičius' press statement and online.
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