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#CodCrisis deepens in North Sea

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The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has announced today the collapse of the North Sea cod population, and has recommended reducing its catch limits by 70% for 2020. In order to revert its critical situation, Oceana strongly encourages EU decision-makers to follow this advice, which is the result of an updated scientific assessment of the stock. Cod is in a dire situation in EU waters – in April this year, ICES also reported the collapse of Eastern Baltic cod.

Oceana released the following statement in the response to the news: “North Sea cod was the flagship of sustainable fisheries. But here we are again at a stage when scientists are calling for a 70% reduction. At a time of public outrage at the state of our natural resources and our oceans, fishing fleets cannot continue to overfish the North Sea. EU ministers must stop this happening, follow scientific advice, and fulfil their legally-binding obligation to fish at sustainable levels by 2020,” said Oceana in Europe Policy and Advocacy Manager Javier López.

Cod is an ecologically and commercially important species in the North Sea and is fished mainly by fleets from the UK, Denmark and Norway. Its population peaked in the North Sea at 270,000 tonnes in the 1970s, but plummeted to just 44,000 tonnes back in 2006.

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Since then, and after a decade of recovery efforts, in 2017 it was considered a sustainable option by some sustainability labels and touted a success story of how to rebuild an almost collapsed stock. However, since then fisheries ministers have frequently set total allowable catches (TACs) above scientific advice.

General overfishing figures in the North Sea have halved from over 80% a decade ago to 40% nowadays. However, the last few years have seen efforts to eliminate overfishing stall. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) imposed clear obligations and targets on all EU member states, putting sustainable fishing and practices at the heart of this EU-wide policy. A lack of implementation of the CFP rules, exacerbated by lack of political will to fish sustainably, mean situations like today’s, where fish populations are plummeting in numbers, will be ever more common.

The scientific advice issued by ICES is considered by the European Commission when drawing up its annual fishing limits proposals, which are ultimately negotiated and decided by all national fisheries ministers at a meeting in Brussels every December.

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Cyprus

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €157 million in pre-financing to Cyprus

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The European Commission has disbursed €157 million to Cyprus in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's financial allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €1.2 billion in total over the lifetime of its plan, with €1 billion provided in grants and €200m in loans. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80bn in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU. Part of NextGenerationEU, the RRF will provide €723.8bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states.

The Cypriot plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Belgium

EU Cohesion policy: Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy receive €373 million to support health and social services, SMEs and social inclusion

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The Commission has granted €373 million to five European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) operational programmes (OPs) in Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy to help the countries with coronavirus emergency response and repair in the framework of REACT-EU. In Belgium, the modification of the Wallonia OP will make available an additional €64.8m for the acquisition of medical equipment for health services and innovation.

The funds will support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in developing e-commerce, cybersecurity, websites and online stores, as well as the regional green economy through energy efficiency, protection of the environment, development of smart cities and low-carbon public infrastructures. In Germany, in the Federal State of Hessen, €55.4m will support health-related research infrastructure, diagnostic capacity and innovation in universities and other research institutions as well as research, development and innovation investments in the fields of climate and sustainable development. This amendment will also provide support to SMEs and funds for start-ups through an investment fund.

In Sachsen-Anhalt, €75.7m will facilitate cooperation of SMEs and institutions in research, development and innovation, and provide investments and working capital for micro-enterprises affected by the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, the funds will allow investments in the energy efficiency of enterprises, support digital innovation in SMEs and acquiring digital equipment for schools and cultural institutions. In Italy, the national OP ‘Social Inclusion' will receive €90m to promote the social integration of people experiencing severe material deprivation, homelessness or extreme marginalisation, through ‘Housing First' services that combine the provision of immediate housing with enabling social and employment services.

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In Spain, €87m will be added to the ESF OP for Castilla y León to support the self-employed and workers who had their contracts suspended or reduced due to the crisis. The money will also help hard-hit companies avoid layoffs, especially in the tourism sector. Finally, the funds are needed to allow essential social services to continue in a safe way and to ensure educational continuity throughout the pandemic by hiring additional staff.

REACT-EU is part of NextGenerationEU and provides €50.6bn additional funding (in current prices) to Cohesion policy programmes over the course of 2021 and 2022. Measures focus on supporting labour market resilience, jobs, SMEs and low-income families, as well as setting future-proof foundations for the green and digital transitions and a sustainable socio-economic recovery.

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European Commission

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €2.25 billion in pre-financing to Germany

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The European Commission has disbursed €2.25 billion to Germany in pre-financing, equivalent to 9% of the country's financial allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). This corresponds to the pre-financing amount requested by Germany in its recovery and resilience plan. The pre-financing payment will help kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Germany's recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Germany's recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €25.6bn in total, fully consisting of grants, over the lifetime of its plan. The disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80bn in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU. Part of NextGenerationEU, the RRF will provide €723.8bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states. The German plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A full press release is available here.

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