Both sides of the Christmas break have seen intense activity at Westminster as the Fisheries…
European Parliament CFP Vote
Commentators are still assessing the significance of the vote in the European Parliament Fisheries Committee in 18th December. It is probably too early to assess its real relevance.
On the face of it the Committee voted for a reformed CFP that includes:
- A discard ban that covers catches of all regulated species, with some flexibility on deadlines and species which survive discarding
- An obligation to manage fish stocks to some level above MSY
- A rejection of a European level system of ITQs
- Support for a form of regionalised management within a broad statutory framework and default to centralised management if regional measures fail
However, perhaps the most significant development of the day came after the Committee had finished voting (13 to 10 with 2 abstention) to support the package, when the Commission suggested that the narrow vote was insufficient to give the Parliament an adequate mandate to enter “trialoge” negotiations with the Commission and the Council of Ministers on the final shape of a reformed CFP.
One of the main political groupings, the European Peoples’ Party, voted on block against the package, and as they account for 40% of the eligible votes winning their support for a final compromise package in Plenary, sometime in the New Year, will be critical.
It is not immediately clear what the EPP’s positions will be then as there is a swirl of cross-cutting party political, national as well as fisheries factors in the mix.
The NGO’s have lobbied the European Parliament with an intensity that reflects the financial resources to which they have access. But as is often the case with European legislation it is not clear what exactly has been voted for, what its significance will be in 6 months time and what it means in terms of practical implementation issues.
The Irish hold the EU Presidency for the next six months and it is widely felt that this provides the best prospect to secure an agreed reform through the “trialoge” process of negotiation between the parties. The delay in agreeing an EP negotiating mandate, which passes a vote in Plenary, could turn out to have serious consequences for the timing and perhaps the substance of the reform.
A Federation delegation was present for the European Parliament vote. We will be meeting with senior Defra officials in the New year to take stock of these most recent development and discussing how to achieve the UK’s and the industry’s priorities for the reform.