The European Parliament and fisheries policy

The key Committee in the European Parliament (EP) dealing with issues related to European fisheries policy is the Committee on Fisheries. However, other committees are frequently called on to give opinions on fisheries issues, principally the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Development.

Committee on Fisheries

Link: Committee website

The Committee on Fisheries is responsible for:
– operation and development of the CFP and its management
– the conservation of fishery resources
– the common organisation of the market in fishery products
– structural policy in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors
– international fisheries agreements

As the Committee responsible for the CFP, it is responsible for scrutinising almost all draft legislation concerning EU fisheries policy. The exception is the fixing of fishing quotas and allocation of fishing opportunities. Since the beginning of 2010 and the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the EP role has increased from being only consulted on fisheries legislation to having co-decision powers with the Council on most issues concerning the CFP. Hence this is the first time that the Parliament has legislative power in a reform of the CFP. The responsibility of the Fisheries Committee in shaping the Common Fisheries Policy and its role in the reform cannot be understated.

The Members of the Fisheries Committee meet approximately once a month in Brussels. The present (Since 24 January 2012) Chair of the Committee is is Gabriel Mato Adrover, a Spanish member of the conservative European People’s Party (EPP). The previous chair was Carmen Fraga Estevez, a member of the same party. There are also four vice chairs.

The draft agenda and meeting documents are put online several days before the meetings.

Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

In the environmental field the Committee is responsible for environmental policy and environmental protection measures, in particular concerning:
– air, soil and water pollution, waste management and recycling, dangerous substances and preparations, noise levels, climate change, protection of biodiversity,
– sustainable development,
– international and regional measures and agreements aimed at protecting the environment,
– restoration of environmental damage,
– civil protection,
– the European Environment Agency;

Although the Environment Committee is not directly responsible for fisheries policy within the EP, because of its responsibility for biodiversity protection and marine protection it is often called on to give an opinion on CFP issues.

The Committee is responsible for environmental legislation that impacts on EU fisheries policy, for example the EU Habitats Directive which aims to protect key species and spaces in the EU, including marine areas. The European Marine Framework Directive also falls under the remit of the Environment Committee, where there is an obligation for the CFP to ensure good environmental status of the oceans.

The Committee takes the lead on international environmental agreements and conventions and more and more marine species are being considered within these bodies, giving the Committee increased influence over marine conservation and fisheries management measures. An example in early 2010 was the proposal to include a number of marine species, including bluefin tuna, in appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The Environment Committee non-legislative report recommended (which was subsequently approved by the plenary) that this species should be included in appendix I, which would ban all international trade. The proposal was not passed at the CITES meeting in March 2010; but if it had passed, EU fisheries activities would have needed to be adapted to take account of the trade restrictions on the species.

Committee on Development

The Committee is responsible for:
–  the promotion, implementation and monitoring of the development and cooperation policy of the Union, notably:
– political dialogue with developing countries, bilaterally and in the relevant international organisations and interparliamentary fora,
– aid to, and cooperation agreements with, developing countries,
– promotion of democratic values, good governance and human rights in developing countries;
– matters relating to the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement and relations with the relevant bodies;
– Parliament’s involvement in election observation missions, when appropriate in cooperation with other relevant committees and delegations.

The Development Committee can be requested to provide opinions to the Fisheries Committee on issues concerning external aspects of the CFP where they affect EU relations with developing countries. Fisheries Partnership Agreements, where the EU buys rights to fish in the waters of third countries are an example. The Development Committee has raised issues of the lack of coherence between EU fisheries and development policies, in particular with regard to Fisheries Partnership Agreements with developing countries.

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