Parliament and Council reach political agreement on basic regulation

At 3:30 in the morning 30 May, the European Parliament and Council reached political agreement on the main points in the basic regulation in the fisheries reform.

Update 14 June: The consolidated text of the basic regulation as agreed during the trilogues is now available. There is also a provisional consolidated text from 3 June, which only covers the articles discussed during the trilogues 28–29 May.

The deal still needs formal approval of Coreper and the European Parliament plenary. There are also several articles in the basic regulation where technical details remain to be sorted out.

During the triologues of 28–29 May, which spilled over into the morning of 30 May, the co-legislators have reached agreements on issues such as MSY, discards, the external dimension, access criteria and fleet capacity.

What has actually been agreed? “It is a mess,” a parliament official admitted Thursday morning. Several different wordings have circulated during the trialogue and it will take some time for officials to compile a consolidated version of the agreement. (Update 3 June: provisional consolidated version now available.)

Some things are clear, though:

  • On discards (article 15), the deal is identical to the Council’s new position from 15 May.
  • The Parliament got approval for its demand that when distributing fishing opportunities, member states shall use shall use transparent and objective criteria including those of an environmental, social and economic nature, such as the impact of the fishery on the environment, the history of compliance, the contribution to the local economy and historic catch levels (article 16).
  • In the external dimension of the CFP, EU vessels will now only get access to surplus of fish in third countries and there are new measures to prevent flag hopping, in line with the resolution on the external dimension adopted by the European Parliament in November 2012.
  • Parliament got support for new control measures, by establishing a new compliance committee.
  • Council also ceded to the Parliament on issues such as article 36 (transparency in fishing fleet register) and article 37 (data requirements).
  • On ending overfishing and rebuilding fish stocks (article 2), there is now a target to rebuild fish stocks above biomass levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY). Somewhat ambiguously, the article does not state explicitly that fishing mortality must be set at levels lower than the corresponding Fmsy. The Council wording remains, that Fmsy shall be applied by 2015 “where possible” and no later than 2020 for all stocks. Parliament got support for a new recital that specifies that those catch levels can be postponed later than 2015 only in cases that would seriously jeopardise the social and economic sustainability of the fishing fleets involved.

Some reactions and comments:

European Parliament press release
Commission press release
Council press relsease
Irish presidency press release
Watch the press conference 30 May. (Watch the press conference at BBC, in another video format)

Political groups
S&D press release
Alde press release
Greens press release

Europêche press release
Greenpeace press release
WWF press release
Ocean2012 comment

Axel Naver

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