On Monday (15 July) the 28 EU member states finalised their common position on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), ahead of negotiations with the European Parliament.
More money for outermost regions, less for data collection
Member states want to spend less money on data collection and sustainable development of fisheries, compared to the Commission’s proposal.
They want to spend more money on the outermost regions and on control and enforcement, compared to the Commission’s proposal.
Member states also want more money for shared management (i.e. the member state implements the payment) and less money for direct management (i.e. the Commission implements the payment).
The member states want flexibility to move funds from storage aid and the integrated maritime policy to data collection, control and enforcement. However, they do not propose any flexibility to move funds from the largest budget heading: Article 15, point 2, which allocates 4.38 billion euro to measures such as investment on board vessels.
On a side note, the European Parliament’s fisheries committee has not specified how money should be allocated to the various budget headings. MEPs will amend this part of the EMFF during the plenary vote in October.
The French fisheries minister, Frédéric Cuvillier, wrote in a tweet that he found the increased money for outermost regions to be a success.
Easier to get money even if you break the rules
Member states also agreed on the process for interrupting or suspending funds to member states or vessel owners who do not comply with the rules of the common fisheries policy (CFP).
Markus Knigge, advisor to Ocean2012 and co-founder of fishsubsidy.org, said he was disappointed that member states agreed to make it more difficult for the Commission to interrupt payments to non-compliant member states, by reversing the burden of proof.
In the Commission’s proposal, the Commission would be able to interrupt payments if there was a suspicion of serious non-compliance with the rules of the common fisheries policy. In the Council’s general approach, the Commission needs to present proof that there has been an infringement of the rules.
“The member states have a tendency – throughout the amendments to several articles – to make it easier for everyone to get money no matter if they follow the rules or not. It is unfortunate that they miss the opportunity to give incentives to stick with the rules of the common fisheries policy,” Markus Knigge said.
This complements the 2012 partial agreement
The fisheries ministers had already agreed in October 2012 on what kinds of measures they want to fund, proposing controversial subsidies for vessel modernisation. At the meeting this Monday, the ministers agreed only on the last remaining paragraphs of the EMFF, notably the criteria for distribution of funds among member states and how the budgetary resources are to be allocated for different measures.
The general approach will enable the Lithuanian Presidency to negotiate with the European Parliament as soon as Parliament votes in plenary (plenary vote scheduled for October).
“Time is of the essence for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. We will make every endeavor to ensure that the entry into force date is 1 January 2014″, the Lithuanian fisheries minister Vigilijus Jukna said in a statement.
Below are the proposed figures (euro) for article 15 (Budgetary resources under shared management) and article 16 (Budgetary resources under direct management), comparing the Council’s general approach 15 July 2013 to the Commission’s original proposal 2 December 2011.
Article 15(1), total EMFF resources available under shared management 2014–2020.
Council: 5 526 562 600
Commission: 5 520 000 000
Article 15(2), sustainable development of fisheries, aquaculture and fisheries areas
Council: 4 384 800 000
Commission: 4 535 000 000
Article 15(3), control and enforcement
Council: a minimum of 482 621 000
Commission: 477 000 000
Article 15(4), data collection
Council: a minimum of 344 609 000
Commission: 358 000 000
Article 15(5), outermost regions, total sum 2014–2020
Council: 192 500 000
Article 15(5), maximum sum per year, per outermost region:
Azores and Madeira. Council: 6 450 000 (Commission: 4 300 000)
Canary Islands. Council: 8 700 000 (Commission: 5 800 000)
French outermost regions. Council:12 350 000 (Commission: 4 900 000)
Article 15(6), storage aid
Council: a maximum of 45 477 000
Commission: 45 000 000
Article 15(7), integrated maritime policy
Council: a maximum of 76 555 600
Article 16, Budgetary resources under direct management
Council: 870 044 400
Commission: 1 047 000 000
More information & videos:
Download the consolidated version of the general approach
Council press release
Presidency press release
Video: press conference after the Council meeting
Video: final legislative deliberations at 19:50
Video: legislative deliberations at 12:30