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Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy: Upcoming debate in the EU Council

After the first orientation debate in the Council focussed on discards policy, the next Fisheries Council meeting on 26 and 27 April 2012 will continue the debate among member states’ ministers on the future Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the European Union.

In a summary and preparation document (Update: Revised version of the document of 20 April), the Council Secretariat informs that the next debate will focus around the topics or regionalisation, transferable fishing concessions, and socio-economic aspects of the CFP.

The Danish Presidency has prepared a set of question in these three fields that ministers will have to answer during the debate(s) which are also listed in that document (my highlights):


  1. Within the context of envisaged regionalisation of the CFP can various models of decision-making process be allowed to develop across various regions? Which should be the minimum common elements of such models and which elements could be allowed to vary across the regions? And how to ensure a level playing field in relation to transparency, enforcement and control?
  2. How should Member States cooperate together and what should be the role of the Advisory Councils in the regionalisation framework and would this imply adaptation of their structure and functioning?

Transferable Fishing Concessions (TFCs):

  1. What should be the common EU framework? What safeguards are needed against the potential negative consequences of implementing TFCs (e.g. excessive ownership concentration, social impacts on coastal communities) in order to make the system more acceptable and more successful? Should minimum safeguards be set out in the EU legislation?
  2. How can a system of transferable fishing concessions ensure enough flexibility to allow Member States to design and apply their own modalities or systems? For which elements of the proposal would such flexibility need to be applicable?
  3. What other measures could be used to effectively achieve and document the effective alignment of fishing capacity with available fishing opportunities?

Socio-economic aspects:

  1. What should be the key EU priorities among the proposed objectives and associated measures which address the socio-economic dimension, in particular small-scale fisheries, the creation of jobs and social cohesion in coastal and inland communities?
  2. Does the Commission’s proposals offer the necessary measures and financial support for the support of the objectives of a reformed CFP or is there a need for further measures? What measures are necessary at Member State level?

This looks like quite a set of questions and I wonder whether ministers will actually able to answer all these during the two meeting days. Said differently, considering that discussions on these topics have been ongoing in quite a controversial fashion over the last 3-4 years, I wonder whether this debate can bring forward the legislative process in a meaningful way through these very broad questions.

Update: In the revised version of the document, it is announced that the Commission will present a non-paper on the socio-economic dimension of the CFP and that six coastal states of the North Sea will join in with a declaration on regionalisation.

2 Responses to Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy: Upcoming debate in the EU Council

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