There is something “fishy” with the fishery proposal

The debate on the revision of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has heated up because of allegations that Member States are trying to put pressure on the Commission. The expected Commission proposal, which is believed to suggest radical changes, has been repeatedly delayed for the past month.

The Commission was expected to issue its proposal for a revision of the common Fisheries Policy (CFP) on 17 April. The Commission proposal was said to include measures to radically cut the size of fishing fleets, by for example ending the aid given for modernising or building of new fishing boats. In addition, the Commission was likely to propose the setting of fishing quotas on a long term basis, and not annually as the system now works.

The Commission’s proposal for the CFP was postponed first one week and now it seems to have been postponed for another month. The Spanish have been particularly critical to the proposed reforms. There are speculations that the Spanish government, supported by France, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Ireland, has put pressure on the Commission not to issue the proposal as it stands. The Spanish government is also said to have asked the Spanish Commissioners to exercise pressure on Mr Fischler, the Commissioner for Fisheries. Loyola de Palacio, the Commissioner for Energy and Transport, has sent a letter to Mr Fischler, in which she criticises the proposed reform.

 

TheWWFcalls on the Commission to engage in a public debate on the future CFP, as well as on the independence of the European Commission. The Director of WWF, Tony Long, stated that "WWF suspects improper and unwarranted influence behind closed doors. I challenge the Commission to have the courage to publish robust and independent proposals untainted by narrow, short-term interests."

TheDanish MEPJens-Peter Bonde is demanding an independent investigation of the way the Commission and certain Member States have acted.

Commissioner Prodidenied any illegal pressure from Spain or from the Spanish Commissioners. He stated that de Palacio was fully entitled to participate in the debate in the way she finds appropriate.

 

The present Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) subsidises the EU fishing fleet by 1.4 billion euro per year. Overfishing is a growing problem, and radical changes of the CFP are believed to be required. In 2002, the CFP must be revised, and a Commission proposal has been expected since March. However, it is clear that drastic changes of the CFP will cost jobs, which will put pressure on certain industries and regions.

 

Commissioner Fischler has said that the Commission will issue the CFP proposal on 28 May and that it would not be watered down.

 

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