Parliament and Council reach political agreement on fisheries fund

The EU institutions on Tuesday 28 January reached a political agreement on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), making it possible for the European Parliament to formally adopt the legislation before the elections in May.

“The tug of war between the institutions in December allowed Parliament to return to the negotiating table with a strong position and reach a very satisfactory agreement regarding in particular the financial breakdown and engine renewal”, the parliament’s rapporteur Alain Cadec said in a statement, referring to the breakdown of negotiations 19 December following disagreement on some of the budgetary allocations.

The EMFF will fund measures within the Common Fisheries Policy and Integrated Maritime Policy between 2014 and 2020.

More money for data collection & control
€520 million of the EMFF budget will be earmarked for data collection, and €580 million for control and enforcement. This is a considerable increase over the original Commission proposal, and is an increase which has been defended by the European Parliament.

Phase-out of storage aid and scrapping subsidies
Aid for the storage of fish (for example when market prices are low) will be available until the end of 2018. Subsidies for the scrapping of vessels will be available until the end of 2017.

Engine renewal
Vessels up to 24 meters will be eligible to receive money to buy new engines. Boats under 12 metres can receive aid to replace engines of similar power. Those between 12-18 metres can receive support for engines 20% less powerful than the original. Vessels above 18 metres can receive subsidies for new engines with a reduction in power of 30%.

Temporary cessation
Council managed to defend support for temporary cessation of fishing activities during six months in case of the non-renewal of a fisheries agreement between the EU and a third country.

Other measures
* The EMFF will allow fishermen up to 40 years old to be granted up to €75,000 in individual start-up support if they buy a small-scale and coastal fishing vessel between 5 and 30 years old and have five years’ professional experience in the sector.
* The EMFF may help fishermen to comply with the new rules in the common fisheries policy to ban discards, by supporting investments in more selective fishing gear or equipment to facilitate handling, landing and storage of unwanted catches.
* EMFF aid can also be used to improve safety and working conditions, data collection and port infrastructure.

Member states can choose how to spend the money
In the EMFF, most of the money is for so-called “shared management”, which means that the EU funds only cover parts of the measures. Member states have to add the rest of the money from their own budgets. As the Commission puts it: “The EMFF will co-finance projects alongside national funding streams with each Member State receiving a share of the total budget.”

Within the framework of the EMFF, member states are free to choose what measures to include in their national programmes. They can, for example, choose not to fund new engines although this is allowed.

“With this agreement it is now up to member states to choose what they allocate funding to and how ambitious they want to be implementing the reformed Common Fisheries Policy and ending EU overfishing,” said Uta Bellion, Ocean2012.

Comments: “Mixed outcome”
Environmental organisations said the deal is a “mixed outcome”. Uta Bellion, Ocean2012, said the deal “includes some positive measures, among them more funding for member states to enhance data collection and improve control and enforcement”. Monica Verbeek, Seas At Risk, said: “This will help to improve the situation of data-limited fish stocks in European seas and allow for better scientific assessments.”

Justine Maillot, Greenpeace, said “the direct subsidies to the fishing sector, including funding for new engines, threaten the objectives of the new Common Fisheries Policy by keeping an oversized fleet afloat”.

The figures
Budgetary allocations, according to the Council press release:
– The global cap of the EMFF will be EUR 6 396 million during the period 2014–2020.
– Resources under shared management (between the EU and the member states) for the “sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture”: 4 340,8 millions;
– Data collection: EUR 520 millions;
– Control and enforcement: EUR 580 millions;
– Compensation for outermost regions: EUR 192 millions;
– Integrated maritime policy: EUR 71,1 millions;
– Storage aid: EUR 45 millions;
– Allocation under direct management (money controlled by the EU): EUR 647 millions.

Next steps
Some technical details remain to be negotiated in an additional meeting on Friday 31 January. Update 3 February: During the ‘technical meeting’ 31 January, the institutions finalised the last parts of the text. During this meeting, the Council managed to restrict the Commission’s ability to withhold funds from member states in cases of non-compliance with the rules of the CFP.

Next, the text will be translated and scrutinised by lawyer-linguists before final approval. In the European Parliament, the agreement will be put to a vote in the Fisheries Committee before seeking final approval by the plenary in April. Then, the text will be formally approved by Council.

The EMFF regulation is the last of the three texts of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform package. The basic regulation and common market regulation were finalised in 2013.

Read more:
Council press release
Parliament press release
Commission press release
Ocean2012 press release
WWF press release
Greenpeace press release
Seas at risk press release

Axel Naver

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