Thursday, 13th October 2011
Tough questions for European Commission test legal waters of CFP reform
Struan Stevenson MEP, in his capacity as a rapporteur on a key legislative part of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), has submitted a series of written questions to the European Commission’s Legal Services department, seeking clarity on crucial aspects of the reforms.
The questions, which have been submitted on behalf of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee, are a bid to test the rigour of the European Commission’s proposals regarding the key issues of regionalisation, the international trading of fisheries concessions between member states, and the proposed ban on discards.
If the Fisheries Committee’s legal advice differs significantly from that of the Commission the issues in question may have to be tested by the European courts.
Commenting from Brussels, Struan Stevenson said:
“Sadly, when the CFP Reform proposals were released this summer, we were told by Commissioner Damanaki that they would contain few meaningful steps toward regionalisation because of challenges from the European Commission’s Legal Services department, who claimed that giving back powers over fisheries to the member states was a breach of the Treaties. The first of my questions to the Parliament's legal services tests this assertion.”
“The second question probes whether or not the Commission has the right to allow the international trading of fisheries concessions between member states. Under the new system, quotas will be fixed for a period of 15 years. They will therefore have immense value. However, if they can be traded internationally, Scotland could find itself with no quota left, after all of it is snapped up by wealthy fisheries companies from Spain. The fish caught by these Spanish companies would also probably be landed in Spanish ports, destroying whole fishing communities in Scotland.
“Finally, the third question deals with the proposed ban on discards, asking, if fishermen are to be forced to land everything they catch, why the Commission still claims that undersized or out-of-quota fish will be illegal?”
“These questions are all crucial to the effective working of an improved Common Fisheries Policy, and we on the Fisheries Committee look forward to receiving swift responses to them. If our legal advice differs significantly from that of the Commission this is a debate that could end up in the European courts.”
Notes to editor
1. A full text of the written questions can be viewed on Struan Stevenson’s website. Click here to view the questions.
2. Struan Stevenson is a Conservative MEP for Scotland and Senior Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee.
3. He has been appointed by the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee as its rapporteur on a key legislative part of CFP reform, dealing with regulation of the common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products.
4. For further information, please contact:
Tel: 0131 554 1146
Mob: 07766 166 637