Update on the New Control Regulation/Detailed Rules

7th October 2010 in Europe / Common Fisheries Policy

The new Control Regulation was forced through the Council of Ministers in October 2009 to beat the arrival of co-decision making.

Background

The new Control Regulation was forced through the Council of Ministers in October 2009 to beat the arrival of co-decision making. Subsequently there has been a long delay as the Commission has prepared detailed implementing rules that will go forward as a Commission Regulation (i.e. it will be agreed in Management Committee, not in the Council).

Current Position

The first reading of the Commission’s draft proposal for detailed implementing rules has now been completed and member states have given their positions. The Commission will now revise the text and a new draft proposal will be ready towards the end of October. The Commission is determined that the new Regulation will be adopted at management committee on 3rd December. This will leave very little time for implementation as the new provisions will come into force on 1st January 2011.

Detail: key points

From a legal standpoint, the detailed rules must be consistent with the Control Regulation but the current draft is very far from that in places. The main areas of outstanding disagreement are:

Penalty Points System

The proposals as they stand are far too complicated and go well beyond the powers in the Council Regulation, and beyond what is required for a workable system.

Reporting

For most under-10m vessels, in particular, the requirements are excessive and would place a huge burden on the industry as well as the administration. As the proposed requirements go beyond anything in the Council Regulation, the priority must be to scale back the Commission’s ambitions to something practical and workable.

Weighing of Fish on Landing

Many member states have expressed concerns over the practicalities of the provisions requiring fish to be weighed on landing. Measures designed with a continental fish-market in mind, create huge logistical, cost and quality problems when translated to other types of fishing/landing operations. This is an area in which a considerable amount of work is still required to make the provisions practical and workable.

Recreational Fishing

The provisions that could have meant recreational catches being deducted from the commercial fleet’s quotas have been removed but there remains a serious issue of how to monitor the recreational catch without a disproportionate degree of bureaucracy.

Rushed and Inadequate

Although many of the requirements simply reflect the status quo in a consolidated text, the scale of the new requirements and the stop-go pattern of the discussions as they pass through the process of adoption give rise for serious concern. With over 100 articles and a rushed and inadequate system of scrutiny there is considerable scope for error and unintended consequences.

These concerns are compounded by the short time for implementation.

It is fair to say that the new Control Regulation was conceived in haste in response to criticisms by the EU Court of Auditors; was rushed through Council to beat democratic scrutiny by the European Parliament; enshrines the last gasp of a discredited and ineffectual command and control system that will increase the complexity of an already complex system. In that regard it may come to be regarded as the nadir of the unreformed CFP