Contradiction in Agri-fish Council as Member States agree to step up speed of negotiations for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform, but stand their ground on key issues of divergence with the European Parliament

Posted on 22 April 2013  | 

(Brussels, 22 April 2013) - Following the Council today, the Irish presidency announced plans to step up the speed of the negotiations in the CFP reform, in order to get compromises agreed by the next council on 13-14 May - all Members States agreed with this proposal. The reason behind this move is that the next Lithuanian presidency is not able to take on such a reform in addition to all its other priorities - so to avoid the reform being kicked into 2014 a decision to speed up the decision-making process has been taken.

It was also agreed that some flexibility must be shown towards the European Parliament during the negotiations to ensure compromises are made. However on this point, ‘flexibility’ was nowhere to be heard during presentations by each Member State, relating to the four most sensitive issues where the Council positions differ most from the European Parliament on: recovery of fish stocks (MSY) landing obligations (discards), regionalisation, and fleet capacity. Only five countries (UK, Denmark, Poland, Germany and Italy) showed some flexibility for MSY, but not in much detail.
Quote from WWF
Tony Long, Director, WWF European Policy Office:
“The conclusions of this Agri-Fish council on EU fisheries reform are a contradiction in terms: on the one hand Member States agreed to step up the pace of the negotiations to reach a good deal by the next Council in May, but on the other hand they remain firmly rooted in their position despite the trilogues. They have not moved closer to the position of the European Parliament regarding the cornerstone issues of this reform package that would guarantee sustainability for fisheries in Europe. The Irish Presidency must absolutely push the Council to be progressive on all fronts, not just in its speed in reaching a final agreement.”
In particular WWF calls on the Council to support the following Parliament’s positions to deliver a sustainable Common Fisheries Policy:
1. Ensure that, by 2015, fishing mortality rates are set at levels that should allow fish stocks to recover, by 2020 at the latest, above levels that are capable of producing the maximum sustainable yield and allow all recovered stocks to be maintained at these levels. (Article 2 in the Commission proposal. Amendment #60 in the EP resolution).
2. Establish multiannual plans by 2017 that follow scientific advice and that include conservation measures to maintain or restore fish stocks above levels capable of producing maximum sustainable yield.” (Article 9 in the Commission proposal. Amendment #105 in the EP resolution).
3. Enhance cooperation at regional level on sustainable management of fish stocks with Member States cooperating with one another to ensure the adoption of compatible measures (Article 17 in the Commission proposal. Amendment #121 in the EP resolution).
4. Prevent, minimise and as far as possible eliminate the wasteful practice of discarding unwanted fish and ensure the clear timeline to end the harmful practices. (Articles 3 and 15 in the Commission proposal. Amendments #61, 119, 235 in the EP resolution).
5. Limit subsidy payments to sustainable fishing practices by making Union financial assistance to operators conditional upon the compliance with the CFP rules. Financial assistance shall not be granted to an operation that committed infringements in the past or jeopardises the sustainability and conservation of marine biological resources, biodiversity, habitats or ecosystems. (Article 51 in the Commission and EP proposals. Amendment #199 in the EP resolution). Also limit fishing opportunities and suspend payments to the Member State if it fails to adopt appropriate measures to reach sustainability. (Article 16, in the Commission proposal. Amendment #264 in the EP resolution).

6. Ensure ambitious External Dimension Policy. The Union shall act in line with international commitments, obligations and policy objectives and consistently with the objectives set out in Articles 2, 3 and 4 of the CFP (Article 39 in the Commission proposal. Amendment #161 in the EP resolution).

Source of the article

For further information or interview requests:
Alexandra Bennett, Communications Director
WWF European Policy Office
Mobile: +32 477 393 400
Tony Long, Director
WWF European Policy Office
Mobile: +32 497 293 656
A comparison of longline and trawl fishing practices and suggestions for encouraging the sustainable management of fisheries in the Barents Sea.
© Quentin Bates / WWF-Canon Enlarge

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