The Commission has adopted the Communication 'Towards more sustainable fishing in the EU: state of play and orientations for 2022'. In line with the European Green Deal objectives, EU fisheries are moving towards more sustainable, supporting the transition towards a healthy and environmentally friendly EU food system and underpinning sustainable sources of revenue for EU fishers, the communication shows. The sector's socio-economic performance remains good, despite the coronavirus crisis, also due to the swift support of the Commission.
The Communication calls for further efforts to protect marine resources, both through maintaining high levels of ambition within the EU and by striving to achieve the same high standard in the work with non-EU countries. Member states, Advisory Councils, the fishing industry, non-governmental organisations and interested citizens are invited to take part until 31 August in a public consultation and express their views on the fishing opportunities for 2022.
Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “EU fisheries remain on course towards a still more sustainable use of the sea. And while the pandemic hit our fishing communities hard, it was confirmed that environmental sustainability is the key to economic resilience. The situation in some sea basins requires our particular attention, but also across all our sea basins more must be done to deliver the blue in the Green Deal. I count on everybody to play their full part.”
The 2021 Communication shows that in the North East Atlantic especially, sustainability was almost reached for the stocks managed under the principle of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) - the maximum amount of fish that fishers can take out of the sea without compromising the regeneration and future productivity of the stock.
Healthy stocks further contributed to the sector's socio-economic performance, which thus stayed profitable despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fishing activities were hit hard by the sanitary crisis and landed value of fish is estimated to have decreased by 17% last year compared to 2019. The rapid support that the Commission provided to the sector, in particular through making €136 million of funds available under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, has helped in addressing the effects of the pandemic swiftly.
However, to ensure healthy fish stocks for future generations, efforts need to be pursued. In the Atlantic and Baltic Sea, the Commission will propose for next year to further maintain or reduce fishing mortality in line with maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for MSY-assessed stocks and to fully implement management plans that set MSY ranges of mortality. In the Mediterranean and Black Seas, although there has been a slight improvement, exploitation rates are still two times higher than sustainable levels. Strong efforts will therefore be aimed at further implementing the Western Mediterranean multiannual plan and measures adopted by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean. Further improvements in the Adriatic will feature prominently in the 2022 fishing opportunities.
Member States also need to step up the enforcement and control of compliance with the landing obligation, in particular by using suitable modern control tools, such as remote electronic monitoring systems, which are the most effective and cost-efficient means to control the landing obligation at sea. The Commission will continue working with the European Parliament and Council to reach an agreement on the revised fisheries control system, which can facilitate the use of these tools. Besides, fishers are encouraged to further adopt the use of more innovative and selective gears. The European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) can help finance such investments.
In its relations with third countries, the Commission will pursue high levels of alignment on fishing opportunities and related measures with high sustainability standards. This will be key to ensuring sustainable exploitation of resources and to achieving a level playing field for the EU industry given the strong interlinkages between fleets in the waters concerned. As regards stocks shared with the UK, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) provides a strong basis for managing shared fish stocks sustainably, both in annual consultations on fishing opportunities and through the Specialised Committee on Fisheries.
Every year, the Commission publishes a Communication outlining progress on the situation of fish stocks and launching a wide public consultation on the fixing of annual fishing opportunities for the following year. This Communication assesses the progress made towards sustainable fishing in the EU and reviews the balance between fishing capacity and fishing opportunities, the sector's socio-economic performance and the implementation of the landing obligation. It also sets out the rationale for the proposal on fishing opportunities for the following year.
After the consultation, the Commission will in the autumn table its proposals for Fishing Opportunities Regulations for 2022 in the Atlantic, the North and Baltic Seas, as well as the Mediterranean and Black Seas. The proposals take into account the multi-annual plans and are based on scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and other independent bodies, as well as the economic analysis provided by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF).
The proposals will also incorporate adjustments resulting from the implementation of the landing obligation. Finally, the Council of Fisheries Ministers of the European Union will discuss the Commission's proposals and establish the allocation of fishing opportunities.
Commissioner Sinkevičius in Sweden to discuss forests and biodiversity
Commissioner Sinkevičius is visiting Sweden today (14 June) to discuss the Commission's upcoming EU Forest Strategy and the proposals on EU-driven deforestation and forest degradation with ministers, members of the Swedish Parliament, NGO and academia representatives, and other actors. The Forest Strategy, as announced in the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, will cover the whole forest cycle and promote the multifunctional use of forests, aiming at ensuring healthy and resilient forests that contribute significantly to biodiversity and climate goals, reduce and respond to natural disasters, and secure livelihoods. A key deliverable under the European Green Deal, the Biodiversity Strategy also pledged to plant 3 billion trees by 2030. The Commission aims to secure this year during COP 15 global meeting on biodiversity an international agreement to address the nature crisis similar to the Paris Agreement on climate.
Commissioners Schmit and Dalli to participate in meeting of employment and social affairs ministers
Jobs and Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit and Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli (pictured) will participate in the meeting of employment and social policy ministers today (14 June) in Luxembourg. The ministers will discuss a broad range of issues, including the follow up to the Social Summit in Porto and next steps to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights. In particular, ministers are expected to exchange views on setting national employment and social targets and monitoring progress within the European Semester process. The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on the Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030. The Strategy is a joint tool to improve the lives of persons with disabilities, covering all aspect of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. The Council is also expected to adopt a Recommendation establishing a European Child Guarantee, which aims to tackle child poverty and social exclusion. It recommends concrete actions to Member States to guarantee access to a set of key services for children in need and to promote equal opportunities. Ministers will also discuss the progress of the Commission proposal for adequate minimum wages in the EU.
Further items on the agenda include economic and social policy coordination, long-term care, pension adequacy, teleworking, social dialogue, health and safety at work, and social security coordination. The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU will also highlight the upcoming High-Level Conference on 21 June in Lisbon to launch the European Platform on Combatting Homelessness. Commissioner Dalli will join the meeting to report to Ministers about the celebrations of the European Diversity Month in May and the way forward regarding the LGBTIQ Equality Strategy. Other points of discussion will be the Directive on binding pay transparency measures and the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on gender equality. Both the morning and the afternoon sessions will be livestreamed on the Council website. The meeting will be followed by a press conference with Commissioners Schmit and Dalli, which will be broadcast on EbS.
EU sanctions: Commission publishes specific provisions concerning Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic and Ukraine
The European Commission has adopted three opinions on the application of specific provisions in the Council Regulations on EU restrictive measures (sanctions) concerning Libya and Syria, the Central African Republic and actions undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine. They concern 1) changes to two specific features of frozen funds: their character (sanctions concerning Libya) and their location (sanctions concerning Syria); 2) the release of frozen funds by way of enforcing a financial guarantee (sanctions concerning the Central African Republic) and; 3) the prohibition to make funds or economic resources available to listed persons (sanctions concerning the territorial integrity of Ukraine). While Commission opinions are not binding on competent authorities or EU economic operators, they are intended to offer valuable guidance to those who have to apply and follow EU sanctions. They will support the uniform implementation of sanctions across the EU, in line with the Communication on the European economic and financial system: fostering openness, strength and resilience.
Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union Commissioner Mairead McGuinness said: “EU sanctions must be implemented fully and uniformly throughout the Union. The Commission stands ready to assist national competent authorities and EU operators in tackling the challenges in applying these sanctions.”
EU sanctions are a foreign policy tool, which, among others, help to achieve key EU objectives such as preserving peace, strengthening international security, and consolidating and supporting democracy, international law and human rights. Sanctions are targeted at those whose actions endanger these values, and they seek to reduce as much as possible any adverse consequences for the civilian population.
The EU has arond 40 different sanctions regimes currently in place. As part of the Commission's role as Guardian of the Treaties, the Commission is responsible for monitoring the enforcement of EU financial and economic sanctions across the Union, and also ensuring that sanctions are applied in a way that takes into account the needs of humanitarian operators. The Commission also works closely with member states to ensure that sanctions are implemented uniformly throughout the EU. More information on EU sanctions here.
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