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Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy: Public debate and secret negotiations

Today, the EU Council holds its third orientation debate on the reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (Council background note). That’s the shiny surface of general ideas and positions staged for the public and live streamed on the internet (from ~11/11.15 am).

Tomorrow, the Council’s Working Party* on “Internal and External Fisheries Policy” meets, and the CFP reform debate is on the agenda. Agenda item 1 foresees the “examination of amendments” for the basic CFP regulation. Thus, while the Council at ministerial level still upholds the illusion that they are in an “orientation phase”, the negotiations are already ongoing behind the scenes with concrete amendments.

The problem: The respective document that likely contains these amendments (Council doc. 9561/12) is confidential. Member states are working on a legislative file but the public is not supposed to know who proposes what. While all reports and amendments in the European Parliament, the co-legislator with the Council, are made public, we are not supposed to know what is discussed concretely in the EU’s second chamber.

We therefore are therefore unable to democratically control whether what the politicians say during public debates is matched with the substance of the policies their bureaucrats are negotiating on the lower levels. EU democracy in the 2nd decade of the 21st century.

* = a working-level group of national representatives

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