Pressure mounts on Council over fisheries reform

The European Parliament’s team of negotiators in the fisheries reform claim that progress has been brought to a halt by the failure of the Council to compromise. The European Parliament’s negotiator, Ulrike Rodust, on Tuesday warned: “Collapse of the reform talks with the Council is a real danger.”

Representatives from the EU governments meet in the morning 2 May to discuss the fisheries reform negotiations between Council and Parliament. The Irish presidency seeks support for a mandate to compromise with the European Parliament. However, a large number of member states have shown reluctance to depart from the Council’s position as agreed in the general approach.

If Council and Parliament cannot reach a genuine compromise agreement, “the Parliament may have to press for a second reading. Better no deal now than a bad deal for the next ten years,” Ulrike Rodust said according to a press release.

The Irish presidency downplays the differences between the Parliament and the Council on crucial issues such as ending overfishing and ending discards.

However, a group of MEPs this week wrote an open letter to EU governments highlighting that there is a real difference between ending overfishing 2015 (Parliament position) and doing it only “where possible” without even defining what is meant by “possible” (Council position). While the Parliament majority has voted for a complete discard ban, the Council wants to reduce discards to nine percent of total catches. The MEPs urged governments to strive to find middle ground.

220 Spanish scientists, coming from more than 50 universities, research centers and scientific associations have addressed an open letter to the Spanish fisheries minister, Arias Cañete, asking for a change in Spain’s previous position on the European Common Fisheries Policy. The scientists “are in favor of establishing a fishing mortality based on the existing biomass and set temporary goals that are as accurate as possible for the recovery of the stocks, a position better reflected in the current proposal by the European Parliament.”

A coalition of environmental NGOs on Tuesday issued a statement expressing “concern about the threat of delays or the possible collapse of negotiations on EU fisheries reform.”

“A number of countries, including France, Spain, Poland, Lithuania, Greece and Romania, are resisting efforts to find common ground with the European Parliament on key issues such as fleet management and discards. Coveney must not give in to these short-sighted positions but instead re-double his efforts to win agreement with all fisheries ministers for an ambitious reform,” the NGOs wrote.

Axel Naver

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