Select Committee on European Scrutiny Ninth Report


COM(01) 541

Annual report from the Commission on the results of the multi-annual guidance programmes for the fishing fleets at the end of 2000.
Legal base:
Document originated: 1 October 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 1 October 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 13 November 2001
Department: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Basis of consideration: EM of 22 November 2001
Previous Committee Report: None
Discussed in Council: 27 November 2001
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared, but relevant to the debate recommended in European Standing Committee A on the Green Paper on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy


  21.1  Because of the pressure on the Community's fish stocks, the Council has over the years agreed a series of multi-annual guidance programmes (MAGP), aimed at reducing the fleet's capacity to levels more in line with the opportunities to catch fish. The most recent of these programmes — MAGP IV — runs from 1 January 1997 until 31 December 2001, and it is widely recognised that it will need to be succeeded by a further guidance programme. However, since there is to be a major review of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) during 2002, the Commission takes the view that, as envisaged in its Green Paper[48] on the future of the CFP, any subsequent structural measures should be incorporated within that process. Consequently, it put forward in June 2001 a proposal[49] setting out the arrangements which should apply in the meantime, during the course of 2002.

The current document

  21.2  The purpose of the current document is to report on the progress made under MAGP IV to the end of 2000. This notes that overall the Community fleet on 1 January 2001 was about 17% below the MAGP objectives in terms of tonnage and 12% below in terms of power. However, in common with previous such Reports, it comments that this is due largely to the modesty of the targets set, the Community fleet as a whole being already within the final objectives even before the start of the programme. Despite this, the Report also comments that many Member States (such as Germany, Greece, Ireland and Sweden) failed to reach their targets in some sections of the fleet, whilst others (notably France, Italy and the Netherlands) have not yet met their global objectives. In the case of the UK, the Reports says that, according to the fleet register, the global objectives have been met in terms of power, but not tonnage, though it also notes that the UK tonnage objectives adjusted for the effect of fleet re-measurement in terms of Gross Tonnage have been met.

The Government's view

  21.3  In his Explanatory Memorandum of 22 November 2001, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Commons) at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr Elliot Morley) says that the Government does not agree with the Commission's assessment of the UK fleet's position, and has requested it to withdraw the Report until the information can be presented on a comparable and accurate basis, showing what the UK believes to be the true position. The Minister says that the Government does however share the Commission's view of the importance of MAGP targets, and its determination that those targets should be met. He adds that, at the end of 2000, the UK was already within its final MAGP objective, as well as the objectives for the majority of individual segments, and that the Government will continue to take steps to ensure that UK obligations are met.


  21.4  Since the current multi-annual guidance programme now has a limited life-span, it is clearly more important to focus on the measures which will be taken as a result of next year's review of the Common Fisheries Policy. Nevertheless, we believe that the Commission's criticisms of the way in which the Member States have sought to meet even the modest aims of multi-annual guidance programme IV should be drawn to the attention of the House. As with a number of other related documents, we also regard this Report as relevant to the Commission's Green Paper on the future of the Common Fisheries Policy, recommended on 2 May and 18 July 2001 for debate in European Standing Committee A.

48   (22292) 7262/01; see HC 28-xiii (2000-01), paragraph 1 (2 May 2001), and HC 152-i (2001-02), paragraph 1.1 (18 July 2001). Back

49   (22512) 9875/01; see HC 152-ii (2001-02), paragraph 36 (17 October 2001). Back

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