New agreement opens up for progress on multiannual fisheries plans

The European Parliament and Council today reached a tentative political agreement on how to resolve the deadlock on multiannual fisheries management plans.

Update 7 April: The final report from the Task Force on multiannual plans is now available.

An integral part of the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is that fish stocks shall be managed with a long term perspective, through multiannual fisheries management plans. Today negotiators from the Council, Parliament and Commission agreed on a common understanding on what the multiannual plans should contain, according to sources in the Parliament.

There are already some multiannual plans in place, but for the last few years none of the new plans proposed by the Commission have been adopted.

The deadlock stems from a conflict between the Parliament and Council on what powers the EU Treaties gives to the Parliament as co-legislator for the multiannual plans. The Council has so far wanted to exclude the Parliament altogether from the decision-making process for certain key elements of these plans that influence the total allowable catch (TAC). The Parliament, on the contrary, wants to be involved in these aspects of the plans, while acknowledging that it is the Council that adopts TACs, as specified in the Treaties.

Path forward
A ’task force’ of representatives from the Council, the Parliament and the Commission has negotiated over the last months in order to find a solution to the deadlock. Their tentative agreement today – still pending the approval of Coreper and the fisheries ministers – opens up a path to proceed.

Based on this agreement the Commission will be able to propose new multiannual plans. If these plans are subsequently adopted without difficulty remains to be seen.

Download the final report from the Task Force on multiannual plans.

MEPs will be briefed about the agreement at the fisheries committee meeting 10 April.

The Parliament has taken Council to court in two cases that concern the multiannual plans. Today’s agreement is not expected to influence the court case.

Axel Naver

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