Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 1563-ii

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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

on Thursday 27 October 2011

Members present:

Miss Anne McIntosh (Chair)

George Eustice

Mrs Mary Glindon

Neil Parish

________________

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, Directorate General of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission, András Inotai, Member of Commissioner Damanaki’s Cabinet, and Oliver Drewes, Commissioner’s Spokesperson, gave evidence.

Q117 Chair: Commissioner, good morning. It gives me particular pleasure to welcome you to London as part of our inquiry into the Common Fisheries reform. You are most welcome. I would also like to place on record my thanks and that of the Committee for allowing us to meet you; as Committee Chairman and the Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries as well, I found it most useful. We have circulated the slides that you very kindly have provided to us. Just at the outset, Commissioner, would you just like to present your team for the record?

Maria Damanaki: Thank you, Anne; I am very happy to be here and I am ready to answer your questions. András Inotai is a member of my Cabinet responsible for institutional affairs, so he has contacts with the European Parliament and the national Parliaments; and Oliver Drewes is my spokesperson.

Q118Chair: You are all extremely welcome. We would like to place on record some of the issues that we believe are most pertinent. First of all, this is a very exciting time because for the first time, I think there could be groundbreaking changes in the way that fisheries policy is going to be decided. I wonder if you could talk us through the procedure of decision making and, in particular, what the legal basis will be.

Maria Damanaki: Thank you, Madam Chair. We are going to follow the procedures, which are already fixed, in order to have a new policy. We have gone through a consultation procedure for two years after publishing the Green Paper on behalf of the Commission. Now we have voted in the Commission, in the college, for our proposal. There was a unanimous vote for this proposal, which was published on 13 July. We are now going through consultations with the Member States, the national Parliaments, the Council and the European Parliament. The new policy will be voted under the codecision procedure. That means that we are going to have a vote in the European Parliament and also in the Council. Also, we will welcome any proposals from the national Parliaments in order to be sure that the subsidiarity principle is fully respected. My plan is to go through all these consultations, and I hope to complete the procedure at the end of next year. We have a year in front of us to make any amendments and any modifications needed and, afterwards, Parliament and Council will decide on the proposal.

Q119Chair: The key issue is that fisheries remains an exclusive competence of the European Union. It is music to our ears about subsidiarity, but how in practice will the legal basis apply?

Maria Damanaki: We have to respect the Treaties. I am here to respect the Treaties. Any change of the Treaty is absolutely out of the question. The Treaty has already provided, in very clear wording, that fisheries is an exclusive competence of the European Union, so we cannot change that unless there is a change in the Treaties. Within the framework of respect for this Treaty, we are going to provide some new ideas referring to enhancing the competences of the Member States. We are going to empower the Member States through our regionalisation procedure. I hope that we have a new margin here for discussions, in order to give more responsibilities to the Member States, to the fisheries industry and also to regional governments and authorities.

Referring to the subsidiarity principle, I would like to clarify that I am here to respect fully the subsidiarity principle. That is why I am here to answer your questions and I very much welcome any opinions from the national Parliaments and especially from the British Parliament. The subsidiarity principle means what it always means: that whatever has to be decided at the regional level has to be decided so. I would like to say that, if you have any proposals-any proposals, and I really mean it-for more regionalisation, I will accept them as soon as they are compatible with the Treaty. The Treaty is my only constraint here.

Q120Chair: As you probably know, the British Prime Minister is on record as looking for competences to return to the Member States. If it was the conclusion of this Committee that there was an appetite to revisit the Treaty, do you think that would gain support in other Member States?

Maria Damanaki: This is a political issue and I cannot say in advance what the end of all this discussion would be. What I can say is that, of course, the British Parliament has the right, an absolute right, to go for proposals. I can also promise that I am here to circulate your proposal and to facilitate that but, at the end of the day, I have to say that I am here as a guardian of the Treaty, so I have to respect the Treaty unless I am ordered to go somewhere else. If you want my personal opinion, I really do not think that there is a great margin to negotiate a new Treaty, referring to these competences. If we are going to do that, we have to go through the procedure already mentioned. That means that we need a lot of time. In the meantime, we have to respect the Treaty.

Q121Chair: That is very helpful. We would certainly like to share with you our conclusions at the time that we have agreed them and presented them to the House. How many Member States support the ban on discards and the objective to restore stocks to the levels above that delivered by the Maximum Sustainable Yield by 2015?

Maria Damanaki: We have this target and I would like also to remind the honourable Members of this Parliament that we have undertaken, as the European Union, an obligation to fulfil our commitments through the Johannesburg Declaration. We have agreed already that we are going to implement the Maximum Sustainable Yield principle until 2015. Our proposal simply states that we have to do so and we are taking some measures towards it. Of course, the Parliament and the Council will decide at the end, and now I am receiving some Member States’ opinions that we need to prepare these measures in a better way. Some Member States are already asking for more time. My proposal is to respect the Maximum Sustainable Yield by 2015, and I think we can go for it, which is why the proposal was supported in unanimity by the Commission.

Referring to the discard ban, my proposal is to have an end point, and to have that discard ban at that end point. We are now discussing with the Member States a gradual, step-by-step approach, because as honourable Members know, this is a very difficult procedure, since we have to take advantage of everything that we land. If we force our fishermen to land everything, then we have to persuade them that we can take advantage of everything landed. It is not easy. It is easier for clean fisheries; it is more difficult for mixed fisheries. We are working with the Member States and we are in favour of a gradual approach, but I am totally insisting on the need for an end of the line. We are going to decide together what this end of the line will be, but we need it-we cannot go for a voluntary system here.

Q122Chair: Do you believe that you will reach agreement on your proposal-that there will be a political agreement on what you are proposing?

Maria Damanaki: We have a lot of difficulties, Madam Chair. It is always what happens in Brussels; we have to negotiate with all the Member States. All the Member States have interests that do not coincide. For example, a Member State with a lot of smallscale fisheries has different interests from a Member State with big fleets or landlocked Member States, which are just interested in agriculture and the consumption of good fish, because the consumers play a very important role here. We have already reached an agreement referring to some of our principles. There was a discussion in the Council, because I have presented my proposals to the Ministers there. They have in unanimity agreed that we have to go for sustainability; we have to go for trying to reach the Maximum Sustainable Yield, though some of them have some reservations referring to the end line of 2015. There is also an agreement that we have to go for eliminating discards, though there are also some disagreements referring to when and how we are going to proceed. There are some other issues on which there is confrontation and we have to discuss more; for example, fishing concessions is an issue on which there are different opinions, and we are now discussing this. A lot of Member States would also like to have a more progressive and radical approach on regionalisation. There are therefore a number of issues on which we need further discussion.

Q123Chair: May I just say that your country and the Greek people are very much in our thoughts at this time. Greece obviously is the Member State with the largest fishing fleet in terms of the number of boats, and one that we know is already under financial pressure. Do you believe that the Greek people would agree that this is the right time to prioritise environmental concerns over jobs and income?

Maria Damanaki: As a Greek citizen and a Greek politician, I would like to say that I very much appreciate the support given from this Parliament to the Greek people and also from this Government, the Council and the Summit. As a European Commissioner, I would like to say that, yes, the crisis is here and we have to take care of it. We cannot ignore it. Let us take the example of Greece. Greece has the biggest fleet, as we have already mentioned, Madam Chair, but at the same time I would like to say that they have the smallest income contribution to our profits, because we have smallscale fisheries. This is it: we have a lot of vessels but every vessel is very small. Also, we have a big number of selfemployed fishermen with just a few mediumrange vessels, not big vessels. It is a very peculiar situation, a very specific situation.

I would like to be honest with you. I am not going to give priority to environmental issues over the crisis. This is absolutely not a question and colleagues will not support me in doing that. But what I would like to say is that we have to be sure that what we are doing is reaching Maximum Sustainable Yield, because this is the yield beyond which there will be no fisheries. I am going to Greece to try to persuade the smallscale fishermen that we are going to use our funding in order to give them compensation for the transitional period when they cannot fish-for two or three years perhaps. Afterwards, the stocks are going to recover and they will have a better income. This is the case, for example, for the eastern cod in the Baltic Sea; this is the case, for example, for the cod in some Scottish areas where the stocks are recovering and so fishermen already have a better income. It is not a question only of negative ideas and of reducing quotas. For example, we have taken decisions about next year’s fishing possibilities in the Baltic Sea and there we have some good stories to tell, but we also had to go for a 51% reduction in the salmon catches. That is the case, but if we are going through this rough decision this year, next year will be easier.

Q124Chair: When you refer to a deadline for a ban on discards, would you be willing to accept a later deadline of 2020, in order to reach agreement, for example?

Maria Damanaki: I am going to negotiate with the Member States. I cannot say in advance what my bottom line will be, but I would like to remind honourable Members of the fact that I am aware that, in the end, the Council will decide. I have to persuade them; they are going to decide. Also the European Parliament is going to decide. I have to persuade them, otherwise they are going to vote on what they think is the better way to go forwards. It is up to them. At the end of the day, it is up to them. I am going to give them my information about the stage reached by our technical work at that time, and then they are going to decide.

Q125Chair: You have made a strong case, Commissioner, that the Common Fisheries Policy must restore stocks to sustainable levels as a matter of urgency, yet in the draft regulation there is only a commitment that the Union aims to restore stocks to above Maximum Sustainable Yield levels by 2015; that was the Johannesburg agreement that you referred to. Why have more specific and binding targets on reducing overfishing not been written into the regulation?

Maria Damanaki: During the two-year consultation procedure, I received some opinions in favour of more binding instructions in our regulation. Up to today, we have also heard a lot of opinions saying that we are rather reluctant to introduce concrete measures. This is a balanced approach between what our fisheries industry, our fishermen and our citizens want. Let me be completely open: I have to admit that, whatever we decide, it must be implemented and controlled afterwards. To be honest, I do not have a very proud record here. Let me be honest. We have decided about a lot of rules and afterwards there was not good implementation and control. Also, I would like to underline that, seeing it in a realistic way, there is no way for the European Commission, the European Union, the national governments or anybody to control this situation if the fishermen themselves are not co-operating with us. We cannot have an inspector for each boat; this is out of the question. Our resources are limited and there is a limited amount of money at our disposal, so we need to persuade them to co-operate. We must implement and legislate in a manner that our industry can accept so that it is co-operative with us.

Q126Chair: Can I just ask, on mixed fisheries, what management approach should be used when it is not possible to exploit all the stocks at Maximum Sustainable Yield levels simultaneously?

Maria Damanaki: Mixed fisheries present a difficult problem. We are going to empower Member States to use their own tools, so we are going to give them a margin of flexibility. I would like to inform you of the tools. The Member States can go for implementation of the quota system, but that means that they have to be ready to close the fisheries as soon as the most vulnerable stock has fulfilled its quota. If a stock, even the most vulnerable, is fished up to a certain limit, they have to close the whole mixed fishery. This is one approach. The other approach is to go for limitation of the effort. That means they can go and say, for example, "We are going to fish for so many days and we can get everything we fish." It is up to them to decide what they are going to do. The other way is the Danish example-member states, including the British Government, can opt for concessions. That means that they can give the owner vessels the right to use our public resources for a certain period, and then they can permit them to swap their rights if they want. This is a management toolbox; they can use whatever they want. At the end of the day, the Commission and I are going to check the fishing mortality rates and the health of the stocks, nothing more.

Q127Chair: One of the biggest challenges at the moment is the lack of scientific evidence. When Member States fail to comply with data requests, what penalties, sanctions or incentives will the new policy adopt to increase compliance with those requests?

Maria Damanaki: This is one of our main concerns. Our scientific advice is the best that we can obtain. If the Members are interested, I can give you exact figures to show that we pay a lot of our taxpayers’ money to have the best advice we can from ICES-our international adviser on stocks-STECF and the other committees, but there is a big margin for improvement.

First, we are going to offer more incentives; we will finance from our money 50% of the costs of all the projects where our fishermen co-operate to collect data and give it to us. If they co-operate, we are going to fund 50% of the costs of the projects from our European money; 50%, if I am well informed, is already funded by the national Governments. Our fishermen will have a second leg, because they can be given grants in order to co-operate to collect data and co-operate in these programmes. We have some positive examples: the 50:50 project for sole in the English Channel is the first such example. I would like to admit that you were champions of that; you were the brave pilgrims. This is the first project between fishermen and scientists and it is an excellent example. I am trying to spread this positive approach Europewide now. We are going to offer incentives and we will give money for them to co-operate. We are also going to give money to them and national governments if they conduct research and launch innovative projects on new gear and new means of collecting data and scientific advice.

Q128Chair: Is that under the European Fisheries Fund?

Maria Damanaki: Yes, this is from the European Fisheries Fund. I would like to reassure the honourable Members of this Parliament that we are going to have the same money as before, but we are going to use it in a better way. We are not going to give more subsidies for scrapping vessels and building new vessels. We cannot afford that anymore, since we do not have a lot of fish in our seas, but we are going to give money, for example, for scientific advice, innovation, selectivity of the gears, improving the safety conditions of our fishermen, for labelling, markets and producer organisations. If you are interested, I am ready to discuss our new funding proposal now.

Q129Chair: We will come on to that, if we may. Could I just ask how you define the precautionary approach in order to reduce the Total Allowable Catch by 25%?

Maria Damanaki: Yes, this is a difficult question. The precautionary approach is a principle that is inside the Treaties, so I have to respect it and we have to translate it all together in the best way we can. What does the precautionary principle mean? It means that, in the case when we do not have enough scientific advice, we are not going to do anything that is harmful to the stocks, but there are different opinions here-I would like to be completely open and sincere-between the Member States and between the Members of Parliament about what is exactly harmful for the stocks and what is not. This is something we discuss in the Council every year. For example, in our last decision about next year and the Baltic Sea fishing opportunities, we have decided that, in the framework of the precautionary principle, we are going to cut fishing opportunities for some stocks up to 5%-not 25%, only 5%. In some other cases, we have to go for more cuts. Our idea is to go for a case-by-case approach. Based on all the relevant information, the Council will decide whether we can cut or not and by how much. In any case, we have to implement the precautionary principle because it is written in the Treaties and I have to respect that.

Q130Neil Parish: Good morning, Commissioner. Welcome. I very much respect you for going forward on the discard ban. It was something I kept on about when I was in the European Parliament for 10 years. Commissioner Borg, who was in post before you, started the ball rolling, and so I wish you well. It is going to be quite difficult through the Member States. Draft regulations aim to decentralise some decisionmaking powers. It is very laudable to decentralise them, but you are finding it difficult, I think, to devolve them down to multiannual plans for groups of Member States. What would be ideal, I would have thought, is if some of that decisionmaking process could go to the Regional Advisory Councils, because they are very often a whole fishery. Of course, you have several Member States involved in that. Are you going to be able to break this deadlock? Basically at the moment I think the Treaties say it is a Member State competency.

Maria Damanaki: We are trying. This is the best answer I can give, but let me be more concrete. The Treaty does not give me the possibility of giving powers to advisory bodies, to Regional Advisory Councils or to anybody else, but there is a margin to empower Member States to do so. My general idea is that we are going to give all the Member States around a sea basin, for example let us take the Baltic Sea, the possibility to come together and agree between themselves, and with the industry and everybody. The Advisory Councils are going to play a very important role. The Advisory Councils are going to give their opinion, the Member States are going to sit around and, if the Member States agree to something at the end of the day, then I will commit myself to agree also; I am obliged. This is our idea. We are not giving them strict powers, but our idea-and it is legal and compatible with the Treaty-is this: they will have the possibility, let us say in two months, to agree between themselves. If they agree, I am bound to agree also. This is the way it goes. If they do not agree, then I have to interfere. This is the idea.

Q131Neil Parish: That is what I was going to ask you: how are you going to encourage them to get to that position?

Maria Damanaki: Mr Parish, you know perfectly well, since you have this experience, we are going to give them incentives. This is the only way to persuade them. Incentives mean, for example, that, if we reach an agreement as early as possible and if we are going to implement the sustainability principle, we are going to give them slightly more quota, for example. We are going to give them better funding, for example. This is the only way to do it. Of course, discussion is the other way of persuading, but I think that the language of incentives is much more persuasive and realistic.

Q132Neil Parish: I hope it works, because it has to be a step forward if we can make that work. My next question really is linked a little bit to the first one: what specific changes have you made to the Common Fisheries Policy Regulation to ensure that the fishing industry is more involved in the decisionmaking process than under the current system? This links to the Regional Advisory Councils and the fishermen you have in a fishery, who probably have a great deal of knowledge of fish stocks. There is always a big argument, is there not, between the fishermen who say the stocks are this high and the scientists who say they are this low? Ne’er the twain shall meet. How do you intend to involve the fishing industry more?

Maria Damanaki: I agree with you. Everywhere I go, and I discuss this everywhere with our fishermen, as you can imagine, everybody says to me, "Look, there are so many fish in the sea. Why don’t you let us get them?" The scientists say exactly the opposite. We need their involvement here. Let me give you a concrete example. Today, we are going to decide all technical measures referring to the fisheries in the North Sea. We are referring to fisheries in areas of Scotland, Ireland and so on. The Commission and the Council discuss all the details-mesh sizes and gears. This is something where we can give them the opportunity to decide by themselves. For example, let us imagine that my proposal has been voted. It will be much easier. We are going to say to them, "We need this fishing mortality, so you are going to decide by yourselves and with your fisheries industry-get them on board-what technical measures you are going to use. We are not going to interfere with your mesh sizes, your gears or whatever, but what we are going to do is have some inspections to see if the fishing mortality is getting better."

I am saying it in a simplistic way and I am sorry, because it is rather more complicated, but this will be the exact difference. Then the producer organisations will have an interest in coming to participate, because they themselves are going to decide. For example, the Regional Advisory Council we have in Aberdeen is going to decide and give their proposal, and then the Member States can decide by themselves. This is the real change here. Of course they want more, I know.

Q133Neil Parish: Talking about that, at the moment the regulation does not specify that Member States have to agree to a plan. Could you not actually require Member States to go through the Regional Advisory Councils to agree?

Maria Damanaki: They would have to do so anyway. This is an obligation now. The Regional Advisory Councils are going to have more powers.

Q134Neil Parish: Will they have teeth?

Maria Damanaki: Yes, they will have teeth. They will have more money, also, for their scientific projects, for example this 50:50 project. They will be able to run some common projects with scientists in order to give us advice and then, if they give an opinion to the Member States and if something is agreed there, the Member States will accept it and I will accept that at the end of the day, on behalf of the Commission. We have to accept it if there is an agreement. The problems come, to be honest with you, if there is a disagreement. If there is a disagreement, somebody has to decide and this will be the European Union. I would also like to be open here: now we discuss with the Parliament and the Council, because they want to decide in the case of a disagreement after codecision. We do not really object to this; the problem is that codecision takes a long time-you are very familiar with this. It takes months. I am now trying to persuade the European Parliament and the Council to opt for some delegated procedures, as we mentioned, but this is something we have not decided yet. But if there is a disagreement, then the European Union, in one way or another, will have to decide.

Q135Chair: The Scottish Government has asked for a nonpaper explaining that Member States should co-operate over regionalised fisheries management. Will the Commission be producing this guidance and if so, Commissioner, when?

Maria Damanaki: Yes. I hope that in midNovember we can give these nonpapers to the Parliaments, Council and everybody with some complete examples. Now I have the draft for the North Sea, so there you can see examples of our proposal, but we are going to decide afterwards. I have promised to go for this work. Yes, Madam Chair, in midNovember or the latest by the end of November, we are going to give this guidance.

Q136Chair: Could I just play the lawyer for a moment? Should we be worried that it is not in the regulation at the moment? You answered Mr Parish and you said that this is what the situation will be; our understanding is that it is not currently in the regulation, but you would like it to be in the regulation.

Maria Damanaki: This is a good proposal, and that is why I am here. I would like to assure you that, if there are some proposals, they would be very much welcomed. I really mean that, and also would like very much to see if there is a collective proposal from your Committee or, if that is not the case, from the Members of this Committee. I would really appreciate that very much. That is why I am here.

Q137George Eustice: Can I just say I am really impressed by some of the proposals that are coming out here? I know these negotiations are difficult, but this idea of having the European Union setting a broad framework and objectives and then groups of national Governments open to having policy experimentation to come up with what works is a really good idea, which could be a model for other areas of EU policy as well. I was quite interested in what you said about subsidiarity-that that is the driving principle-because there has always been this problem in the past that the EU has tended to see subsidiarity as giving power to regional institutions rather than national Parliaments, but what you envisage is actually a transfer of powers, effectively, to those national Parliaments. Do you think that it will be easier for those groups of countries that maybe have a shared fishery to reach agreement than it has been to get agreement at a fullscale EU level, or will it be harder? I was fascinated by what you said: you would give them the chance to agree and then, if they do not, you will step in, which is quite an interesting idea. Do you think it will be easier for them to reach agreement left to their own devices or harder?

Maria Damanaki: I would like to clarify my intentions that, for the time being, this is just an idea to give more room. It was supported by the Commission but the case is we do not know. I cannot be optimistic about the outcome, but, with reference to this, my intentions are good. About the subsidiarity principle, I know we do not have the best record on this in our past, referring to fisheries policy. I was sincere enough to admit if there were any cases in which we could give more to the Member States and to our industry.

About your question, I would like to say that I really do not know what will be the result. I can say for example, and this I can say because I am Greek, as you know, that in the Mediterranean it will be very difficult for the Ministers to agree, because I know the situation there. I am more optimistic about the Baltics, because we have already some very good agreements there, and in the North Sea. Your country also and Ireland have a culture of negotiation, of respecting social dialogue and a more effective way of reaching conclusions. I am optimistic about the northern parts of Europe; let me be honest on this. I am less optimistic about the southern part, because in the Mediterranean we have a lot of difficulties. This is my guess, but really, Mr Eustice, I cannot be sure about it.

Q138George Eustice: Just to clarify, you touched on this earlier. I think you suggested that, in the event that they could not agree, the final decision would be a Council and European Parliament codecision.

Maria Damanaki: In the case where there is not an agreement, it will be a European Union decision. We are now discussing what procedure we are going to follow. It will be for the Commission to decide by delegated acts; it will be the Commission with the Council; it will be the Commission, the Parliament and the Council together. There are negotiations right now and we are going to come to a final proposal, but it will be-let me say it in a simplistic way-Brussels. Brussels will decide in the case of disagreement. Now we are all negotiating who is going to make the decision.

Q139George Eustice: Just to be clear, that is to decide the Total Allowable Catch. At the moment, the Council decides Total Allowable Catch.

Maria Damanaki: Yes, they decide it now. Can I give you an example? I think it will be better. My idea is the following: if the reform is in place, Brussels, the Parliament, the Council and the Commission will decide a long management plan. We are going to say for example, "For cod, this is our 10year management plan. At the end of the day, we want the fish mortality to be this, and the harvest rule will be that. You Member States take this plan and then you are going to decide how you are going to reach this arrangement, in whatever ways you want." This is my idea. This is what we are going to decide and this will be the way to give them more competence and more margin for manoeuvre.

For some stocks, we do not have long-term management plans even now, though I am trying, because the Parliament and the Council cannot agree between themselves who is going to decide on this issue. This is something where I would like to be honest. There is a quarrel-not a quarrel, a discussion with arguments-about who is going to decide upon this issue. That is why some longterm management plan proposals have been blocked for the time being. For example, we have a very good proposal to have long management plans for salmon and then to give more powers to Member States, but it has been blocked because the Council and the European Parliament cannot agree between themselves who is going to decide. This is the difficulty.

Q140George Eustice: Just to be clear, would the multiannual plans that are decided contain the Total Allowable Catch figure or are you saying that it would be for groups of national Governments to be given the option first?

Maria Damanaki: It will have a harvest rule in it; this is the way we are doing it. We have a harvest rule saying, for example, we would like to reduce fishing mortality after 10 years up to 20%, and we have to go for 4% or 3% a year. We do not have figures about the TAC. This is better.

Q141George Eustice: That is right, and so groups of national Governments would be given the option to decide the TAC that is consistent with the plan. If they cannot agree, then the European Union steps in.

Maria Damanaki: I would like to be honest. They will have a limitation. They cannot decide whatever. They1 have to decide about the TACs according to the plan.

Q142George Eustice: On the multiannual plans, how confident are you that you will be able to get them in place quite quickly? I know there have been talks of longterm plans for probably the best part of eight or 10 years, and still quite a lot of them are not implemented. You have this target of having a Maximum Sustainable Yield by 2015. Will it be possible to get all of these plans in place in time?

Maria Damanaki: My mandate expires after three years, so I will be very happy if, at the end of my mandate, I have long management plans for the majority of the stocks and a new policy in order. This is my ambition.

Q143George Eustice: If there are stocks for which there are no plans, what would happen in that case under this new system?

Maria Damanaki: If we do not have long management plans, then we have to decide stock by stock and year by year. This is what happens now for the majority of stocks; we do not have long management plans for the majority of stocks. What happens is that we gather all together in Brussels, 27 Ministers and me, and we negotiate about next year’s fishing possibilities. I go there; I have a proposal. My proposal is according to the scientific advice. This is something I can say. Then I have to negotiate with them whether they accept or decide something different. At the end of the day, they decide.

Q144George Eustice: Do you envisage there being a transition where, over a period of time, you would have more and more multiannual plans covering more species?

Maria Damanaki: Yes. If we are going to adopt our reform until the end of 2012, the following two years, 2013, 2014 and up to 2015 will be the most critical ones. We have to go for the majority of the stocks having long management plans, and we will have to implement our discard ban and all the innovation in our proposal. It will be very difficult.

Q145Mrs Glindon: Commissioner, could you tell me the process by which the EU negotiates fishing rights with nonEU countries with which it shares water?

Maria Damanaki: Yes. We have a large number of vessels fishing outside of European waters. We are a big industry. We have a big fleet. The European fleet is powering up and we fish in a lot of areas outside our waters. We fish in West Africa; we fish in the Indian Ocean; we fish even in the Pacific Ocean. We fish in a lot of areas. This is one aspect. We need bilateral agreements with all these countries in order to fish their waters. Also we participate in RFMOs; these are the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations, which are international bodies, where we participate as the European Union. We agree with the other countries what we are going to fish. Also, we have some framework agreements with other countries according to the seabasin approach. For example, we have an agreement for the Indian Ocean. There is a multilateral negotiation procedure. I have to admit that our presence there was not the best and we had a lot of complaints from citizens, NGOs and Governments that we were not respecting the stocks there. Now, I am trying to change the situation. I also have a proposal about our external action. This proposal is to have a new basis for negotiations and to appreciate and implement a new set of principles. We are going to fish only the surplus of the stocks. We are going to give the countries the right to fish by themselves and, if there is a surplus, we are going to sign an agreement to fish the surplus.

Second, we are going to be sure that we give money to the countries for what we are going to take from them, and this money will help their own fisheries industry and infrastructure. Also, we have to be sure that the money goes to the real people, to the beneficiaries, and not only to government organisations. There is a story here. Third, we have to respect international law and human rights, referring to the countries that are going to be our partners. For example, we cannot go and sign an agreement with a dictatorship that tortures its own people. There must be respect for human rules and human rights. This is a new framework. These principles were not there until now. They are in our new proposal, so I hope that will lead to an improvement.

Q146Mrs Glindon: Thank you, Commissioner. From what you have described, you seem to be managing a way around some of the problems that you described in the process of working with these other countries with which you share waters. Do you think that anything you have done now in relation to solving those problems and coming up with a new framework to work with those countries could be translated into a simplified EU Fisheries Policy? Can anything be learned from what you have done there and used for the Common Fisheries Policy?

Maria Damanaki: Referring to the third countries in general, if I understand your question well, there are a lot of countries that have a policy that we can copy. Let me put it this way. For example, the United States has very good legislation for sustainable fisheries. New Zealand and Australia also. We have been in discussions with the Australian Government; they have come to us with advice. I have visited the United States, Norway and other countries where they fish in a more sustainable way. Referring to third countries, yes, there is a chapter here of international negotiations and international partnership. We are going to work together with them.

For example, we are going to co-operate with Obama’s Administration to go for a common proposal, I hope, but at least to co-ordinate our actions for the Rio+20 conference next year. Rio+20 will be the procedure following the Rio conference. I hope we can work together with the Obama Administration-the European Union and the United States together with some new proposals for fisheries. There is also a chapter referring to international affairs, where we have good partnerships with other countries, and one about partnership fisheries agreements with countries where we want to fish.

Q147Mrs Glindon: Why did you decide to opt for a total ban on discards rather than options such as a targeted reduction in discards or using catch quotas?

Maria Damanaki: We had discussed this and I have to admit that some very good and positive examples were cited. For example, the Scottish Government and fisheries have worked together on a voluntary basis and they have a very good project and very good results. But we have had this voluntary approach for many years and it did not work. We have some scientific advice proving that now, in some areas and referring to some fisheries, we have discards that come up to 30% or 50%. This is unacceptable, so we cannot rely on voluntary action after all.

We are now trying an approach that is a synthesis between voluntary systems and obligations. We are going to propose an end after the timeline. Let us say that, after a decade, we will have a total ban on discarding and then have a gradual approach. Fish by fish, stock by stock, we are going to decide when we are going to stop discarding. In cases where it is easier, we will stop it from next year. In cases of mixed fisheries, where there are more difficulties, then we will have two, three or five years in which to proceed; we will see. At the end of the day, we need a total discard ban and this is something we have to decide now, because we had the voluntary approach in the past and it did not work.

Q148Mrs Glindon: You just mentioned there, Commissioner, mixed fisheries. Fishermen themselves argue that the main cause of discards is inappropriate quota regulation in mixed fisheries. How will the new policy address this problem?

Maria Damanaki: We have to admit that there is a difficulty, because we are going to say to our fishermen, "You have to land everything you catch." In a mixed fishery, they catch a lot; they catch different species. The producer organisations can play a very important role here, which is why we are going to give them money to build storage mechanisms. First, we have to store everything and not throw it back into the sea. Then, we can sell whatever is good to be sold-good prices, labelling, all these measures are very important.

Then there is something left. What are we going to do with that which is left, which cannot be sold the first time? Here, there will be a mixture of fish that are above regular size and there will also be some fish that are undersized; I mean juveniles. We cannot permit the selling of fish that are undersized. We are going to use them for charity purposes or for fish-meal. We are going to produce fish-meal for aquaculture purposes. There is no chance that this can be sold, because this will give an incentive for our fishermen to fish juveniles, which is something we cannot permit. The rest of the fish that are above regular size and cannot be sold can be used for a foodforthepoor programme. We have such a programme in agriculture-I think that this Committee may be aware of this programme-but we do not have a similar programme for fisheries. Fish is a very valuable food, and we also have a charity programme, a foodforpoor programme, in order to give these fish to poor families.

We are going to give compensation to the producer organisations if they give these fish to these poor people. That is why the producer organisations have to play a very important role, because they have to manage the whole situation. We cannot manage this. We have to trust them and have confidence in them to gather all the fish, put them in storage, go and sell the best fish that they can sell, give the others to the poor and the undersized fish will go for fish-meal. It will be difficult, but this is the only way to go. No fish are going to be thrown back into the sea, unless they are species that can survive. For example, small sharks, if they are caught, can survive after 24 hours or something, so the sharks have to be thrown back into the sea. As for the other fish, everything has to be landed.

Q149Neil Parish: Commissioner, before I ask you one or two more questions on discards, can I just take you back very briefly to the thirdparty agreement with fisheries? The two things that people dislike about the Common Fisheries Policy most are these thirdparty agreements where our fleet are fishing off Africa and very often destroying the livelihoods of indigenous fishermen. There have even been times they have been running down their boats and taking the fish. Very often the money that is given to those states lands up in, shall I say, less than good governance; it disappears in dictators’ pockets and local fishermen never get it. Do you have any idea of how much the EU actually spends on these agreements? If you have not got the figures now, perhaps you could furnish them for us.

Maria Damanaki: Yes, I can give you all of the details, because this is something that is publicised every year, so it is not a secret. I can say to you that we spend a lot of money. For example, we have an agreement with Mauritania going up to millions of euros. I think that last year it was around €60 million. I can give you the full figures. I just keep a little reservation just to be accurate. We had a problem, which I would like to explain to you much more, because we had given the money and we were not sure that the money was going to beneficiaries. The Government took the money; they have put it on an account, and we are not sure that this money was spent for fisheries purposes, as our agreement provides. We have agreements and they provide that this money is used for this and this and this. Last year, we suspended the last tranche of the payments to Mauritania and we asked them to come for negotiations to see what happens. They have taken some measures and now we are negotiating again to see if we are going to release the payment.

These agreements have an evaluation process and we are obliged to follow this until the end of the line but-there is a ‘but’ here-I think that our legal framework was not strong enough. I can admit and I agree with you that our legal framework was not enough, so now we are going to have a new framework for these agreements in order to be sure, absolutely sure, that the taxpayers’ money goes only on fisheries purposes. That means that they can have their own fisheries and can give, for example, compensation to their own fishermen. They are going to have mechanisms for control, because now we have a new control in regulation. For example Mauritania is responsible for control in their waters, even for our fishermen. For example, and as happened last year, they can put Spanish fishermen in jail if they do not fish in the proper way. We have to be sure that they have the infrastructure and whatever they want to be subject to all this examination, all these inspections and procedures. This is our new generation of sustainable fisheries agreements and we are only going to fish the surplus and under the conditions already mentioned by you.

Q150Neil Parish: Thank you, Commissioner. If you supply those figures in writing that would be good.

Maria Damanaki: Yes, we will give all the figures. This is a lot of money. I would like to say that is 100 million maybe, but I will give you the complete figures.

Q151Neil Parish: On the discards, I very much welcome the fact that the fish that are perhaps not suitable for human consumption will be made into fish-meal for farmed fish. I have been talking about this for a long time; it is a good way of using resource. That should have some sort of value. The problem is your proposals are great, but how much is this going to cost to store the fish, to be able to put some into fish-meal and to be able to store the other fish that will go for food for the poor, which is also a good idea? Is it going to be a terribly costly process for the taxpayer?

Maria Damanaki: I am obliged to you for the money at our disposal. As you know, we have cut our funding line, - The Commission, as a whole. And it was something that the Member States have asked from us and we have to act according to their decision, so we have cut our budget and I have to use the money that is at my disposal. Let me give you an example: in the case you have mentioned about the discard ban and the storage mechanisms, we are going to invest money in building the storage mechanisms and having this infrastructure but, afterwards, the money we are going to give for undersized fish, for example, will not be the market value. It will be a smaller amount of money, just for compensation, otherwise we are not giving them an incentive to go for more selective gears. Do you see how complicated it is? We have to give them some money for compensation-enough, to be honest-but not a lot of money, because we want them to have more selective gears. It is really complicated and we are trying to do our best, but I would like to reassure this House that our budget is limited and we have already cut it, as you know. Perhaps you were informed about the cuts. We are going to respect the money available. I would like, though, to say that there are some Member States that do not use all the money at their disposal. I think that the United Kingdom has used 43% of the money at its disposal, so there is a margin of improvement here.

Q152Neil Parish: Talking about honesty now, fishermen are catching fish miles out to sea. How are you going to be absolutely sure that, if you bring in a discard ban, they are not still discarding?

Maria Damanaki: I cannot be sure, but I hope we are going to create a new culture. I am relying very much on the consumers here, because this is coming together with my labelling proposal. My ambition is that, after two years, everybody going to a supermarket will buy a fish product with a small label containing very basic information. For example, it can say, "This fish is fresh" or "defrosted"; "It comes from Scotland" or "It is fished in a sustainable way." This will be an incentive for our fishermen and for the consumers. Referring to WTO rules, we cannot say that this is a European product or a nonEuropean product, but if we say for example that this fish is fresh, then no fish from Vietnam, Brazil or China can be fresh. It is defrosted, as we can imagine. This will be a great advantage for our fishermen.

Q153Neil Parish: I welcome the labelling. We have satellites. We know where the boats are. Why should there not be cameras on those boats while they are fishing so that they can prove that they are not discarding?

Maria Damanaki: Under our proposals, all vessels over 12 metres will be obliged to have CCTV connected to our satellites. We give a lot of money for that purpose. In some cases, we give 80% of the amount needed to have this device. We are going to give them 80%, maybe more, 90%, to persuade them to have this device, to put it on board and to connect with satellites. All the vessels over 12 metres will have this CCTV. Of course there are a lot of vessels under 12 metres. I do not underestimate this, so we are opting for inspections. We have dealt with some cases. For example, we have now in front of the court a very important case of Italian fisheries fishing with drift nets. It was a small vessel; they do not have CCTV and whatever. We had inspections and now they have to pay a lot of money as a fine because of that irresponsible behaviour.

Q154Chair: On the storage aid being made available to fishermen, how do you think the public will react to the cost and the fact that this is going to be paid for out of taxpayers’ money?

Maria Damanaki: Here we need co-operation because we are going to undertake some studies of these storage mechanisms to discover the best way to go about it. We are organising a study about leveraging our money, because we can opt for privatepublic partnership agreements and we will get better advantage from our taxpayers’ money. For example, we can give money via some new instruments. We can give money to a fund and then fisheries can borrow money from it. We can find ways to leverage our money in the best way to build this storage mechanism step by step, but I would like to say that we are rather co-operative here, because we cannot force fisheries to land everything if they do not have some kind of storage mechanism. That is why I need this margin to negotiate a gradual approach.

Q155Chair: So we will not have fish mountains.

Maria Damanaki: Let us hope. I do not know.

Neil Parish: We can feed them the fish then, can’t we?

Maria Damanaki: I know that there are some tough people there.

Q156Chair: In terms of the satellites and the inspections, who is actually going to be paying for this? Will it be the fishermen themselves?

Neil Parish: You were talking about a 90% grant, weren’t you?

Maria Damanaki: I think that the incentives will be powerful for them. We have to communicate in a better way that, with this idea of satellites and whatever, we are not going to punish them; we are going to help them and give them incentives. But at the end of the day, we have to be honest: there will be punishments if they are not complying with the rules. This is the way it goes. I cannot keep everybody happy. I do not want you to take me wrong. I am not promising that everybody will be happy, but I would like to say that we have a good co-operation with some Governments. I would like to underline that we have a very good co-operation with the British Government and also with the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government. I hope that it will work, but this is something we have to take a risk on.

Q157George Eustice: I wanted to turn to the impact of these proposals on incomes for fishing communities. I know that your communication states that, in the long term, after 2017, you will have larger fishing stocks and fishing incomes could actually increase, but how confident are you that, in the interim, in the initial three or four years that this would be in place, fishing communities would be able to overcome those temporary reductions?

Maria Damanaki: There will be a transition period and we need to give them some compensation during that time. Until now, we have three concrete measures. We will give money to fishermen in this transitional period if they collect data for us. If they work together with us in order to collect data, we will give them money. We will give them money if they co-operate in some of our programmes to take litter from the sea. For example, when they cannot fish because of spawning periods for the stocks, we can give them money to go away to the sea, collect all the litter and return it to the land.

I can give you a positive example from France. In southern France, we have a programme where we give money to fishermen to take all the plastic from the sea. Then we have co-operation from the plastic industry, which takes all this plastic back and recycles it. We can give money for other purposes, for example, if fishermen work with the national Government to control closed areas where they cannot fish themselves.

We also have a special instrument to give money not to them but to their families. That means that, if they can do something in terms of tourism, cooking, lessons for fisheries or training or something, we can give money. This money does not go to fishermen themselves but it goes to the coastal areas. There is a very good example of absorption on the coast of Spain, in Galicia and in other areas. There is a lot of money given to this "spouses’ programme", as we call it. I went there and the fishermen are complaining that we give more money to their spouses than we give to them, but it was a very successful and now they have some money to compensate them for the crisis. It was a programme from the crisis. We are going to have similar projects in order to give them compensation because, yes, I have to admit that, in some cases, they will have to face a reduction in their income, and it will be for some years.

Q158George Eustice: Do you know how many years? Some of the evidence we have has suggested around four years in order for stocks to get to a sustainable level. Would that be the sort of figure you would recognise?

Maria Damanaki: This is a very interesting question. I am afraid I do not have a complete answer, but we have now ordered a study about the timing-how many years we need for this transitional period and beyond. As soon as we have this assessment, I will forward it to you. This is something we are exploring now, so I cannot give you an answer.

Q159George Eustice: You mention some of the schemes that you have to encourage fishing communities to switch to tourism or other uses. That is not a solution for the interim; that is more of a longterm solution for those who leave the industry altogether. Would that be right?

Maria Damanaki: At the end of the day, I hope that as a longterm solution, we have a good industry and we also have a good processing industry connected to the landings. That is what we would like. I have visited some areas in Ireland and I can tell you that they have taken this crisis money for tourism and whatever-let me put it this way, the alternatives to fisheries-and they now have some very good aquaculture projects. Now they are turning back to the fisheries again, because the stocks are recovering in some cases. We need to go for a combination and see how it goes. Aquaculture is something I would like to stress because we are going to have a special separate funding line for it. We see it as an alternative to overfishing. To be honest with you, we import a lot of aquacultural products from other countries when we do not know if they are sustainable fish.

Q160George Eustice: The impact assessment to the draft regulation envisaged that, in the next 10 years or so, the number of people involved in the EU catching industry could go down by about a third. Do you think that the tourism measures would be enough to provide employment for all of that third?

Maria Damanaki: We are trying to do our best to avoid all the socially difficult consequences. I have to say though that, even now, we have an increase of unemployment in all these areas. You know that of course from your experience, but I can confirm that, at an EU level, we have a decrease in employment in the sector already. If we do not do anything, it will not be better; it will be worse-absolutely we have to be informed about that. I can say that what we are going to do is not as bad as what is happening, but I know that that is not a good argument. We are opting for these compensation measures in the hope that we can facilitate things a bit. To be honest, I cannot promise that it will be the end of unemployment.

Q161George Eustice: Do you think the EU should be doing that alone in terms of those other compensation measures or would you also like to see individual Member States acting?

Maria Damanaki: All these measures are codecided and comanaged by the EU and Member States. We do not have our own projects. All these measures are going to be comanaged with Member States.

Q162Neil Parish: May I ask about decommissioning? Europe has spent a fortune on decommissioning over the years, but I do not think it has been very effective, because basically they come back with newer boats, maybe fewer of them, but they can catch just as much fish as they were catching before. Are you going to go down another decommissioning route for boats?

Maria Damanaki: I hope you will help me with your arguments, because I have some difficulties. Over seven years we have spent around 1 billion euros of taxpayers’ money-it is a lot of money-on scrapping vessels and, at the end of the day, we have increased our capacity because, as we have mentioned, fishermen have gone for modern vessels and they now fish more and catch more. This is not a solution to our overcapacity problem, so we have to stop it. We can give some money for special purposes, for example if there is a programme for better safety conditions for our fishermen. We may have a programme for more selective gears. All these are issues and means for the modernisation of our fleet, but-there is a ‘but’ here-we cannot go for an increase in the capacity of the engines or their allowance to catch more. This is something we cannot permit. This means we will liberate some money for storage mechanisms and all the other good ideas we have. That is our proposal. The reaction from Member States has been negative-very negative in some cases. It will be voted on. If your Parliament, for example, can make a positive decision, it will be a great help.

Neil Parish: I think we will, don’t you? It is the other countries.

Q163Mrs Glindon: In relation to overcapacity, Commissioner, some environmental charities have argued that binding targets on fleet capacity reduction are needed, not just a system of transferable fishing concessions. Why has it been decided not to set more stringent fleet capacity ceilings?

Maria Damanaki: We are not able to do so, because the Member States will not be very favourable towards this. In the middle of the crisis, we cannot go and say "stop fishing". It is not as simple as that. We have to follow some positive examples. This is what we are looking for. I can mention here the positive example of Denmark where they have gone for such concessions in their country, not at an EU level. They have a national programme and they have reduced their capacity by 30% in four years. At an EU level, we have given all these billions that Mr Parish has mentioned and we have increased our capacity by 3% a year. We have to follow the positive Danish example and I think it is the best way to go forward, because we can also give some compensation to the fishermen who would like to retire. If we reduce overcapacity, as you have implied, in a stricter way, we have to have money for earlier pensions. All the Finance Ministers, the British Finance Minister included, are very negative about this. Since we cannot give money for early pensions, this is the only way to handle the problem.

Q164Mrs Glindon: What would happen or what would be the alternative if the transferable fishing concessions do not work to reduce capacity?

Maria Damanaki: If they are implemented, they are going to reduce overcapacity, I am sure, but perhaps some Member States will not be very willing to go for concessions at a national level. In such a case, I do not see an alternative. I cannot find any.

Q165Mrs Glindon: Taking it a bit further, the system of transferable fishing concessions is thought likely to benefit large wellcapitalised international businesses over the small local ones. Do you think that it is the job of politicians to be concerned about the impact it will have on the social structure of the fishing industry and the associated communities?

Maria Damanaki: Absolutely, I agree with you. That is why I have mentioned the Danish example, because safety measures were introduced to avoid concentration by big owners and investors. They gave quotas and the concessions only to vessel owners, not to everybody-not to banks, for example, to invest there, just to vessel owners. They have safeguards. For example, in order to avoid concentration, a vessel owner can sell their concession to another vessel owner, but not to a bank, a big owner or whatever. Also, they have exempted smallscale fisheries. Boats under 12 metres can enter the system only if they want to-only on a voluntary basis. This positive example has led to a very good result, because we have had a decrease of overcapacity by 30% in four years, and we have a good fleet. The smallscale fisheries went forward and they have a good income.

Just to be honest, there was a negative example in Iceland, where they had concessions; they had rights. They had given the possibility to the banking sector to come in and buy everything without safeguards. It bought everything and the fisheries industry was almost destroyed. They had very difficult times. Safeguards and good working on the modelling of this system are very important. Also the national control of the system is very important. That is why we are opting for national systems only and giving the flexibility to the Governments to decide how they want it to go. Otherwise, we will not have good results. We cannot handle this from Brussels.

Q166Chair: Can I just follow up what you said, Commissioner, about transferable fishing concessions and what happened in Denmark? The Germans, last week at the meeting you hosted, were actually quite cross with the Danes, because the Danes are now landing fish in Germany, so actually they have just moved the problem along. How can you stop that happening under transferable fishing concessions?

Maria Damanaki: Yes, I know this case and would like to clarify it. Since we are in a European Union, you cannot put obstacles to landing in European ports in general. What we are working on now is to see if we can give them some incentives to land in the nearest port. For example, if we have some fishermen fishing in the Irish Sea, even if they are Spanish, British, Irish or anybody, they will have an incentive to land at the Irish coast and give some raw material for the processing there. We cannot put in an obstacle and say to German vessels that they have to land only at German ports. Since we are a unified area for landings, we cannot do that. This is an internal market issue.

Q167Chair: The problem presumably is that they are now counted as German fish because they are landed on German soil. Denmark has the benefit and, in your view, you applaud Denmark but actually it is a disadvantage to Germany.

Maria Damanaki: Yes, I understand, but the Danish are Europeans so Europeans will get the advantage for me and also the Germans. They can have their own way to handle things and take the advantage, as a German advantage. It is up to them.

Q168Chair: We are not actually making the fish more sustainable.

Maria Damanaki: Yes, we are because we are reducing overcapacity. Perhaps I do not get your question, but what I would like to underline is that what matters for us is that the fish stocks in the Baltic Sea have good health. This is sustainable fishing. If we have German or Danish vessels taking these fish and landing them at a German or a Danish port, they are European ports; it is okay for us. What we need is to have the stock at a sustainable level, not overfished, without having too many European vessels-Danish, French, whatever-in the Baltic Sea, and get the best advantage from the fish caught. This is our line. We cannot interfere with German/Danish relations. They can fix this by themselves. For us, everybody is European.

Q169George Eustice: I wanted to turn to the role of the science and data, particularly with the Total Allowable Catches, because there has been this problem that the TACs decided by Council have always tended to be quite a bit more than the science suggests would be sustainable. I know it has come down from around 47% more in 2009 to 23% now, but do you think there is anything we can learn from the approach taken in the United States, where you have the Magnuson–Stevens Act, which gives some force to the science and says that is the maximum level? In statute, in law, they cannot set it higher. Do you think that is something that could be considered here?

Maria Damanaki: We have to learn a lot from the United States in this area, I have to admit. I have been there to discuss that and I enjoy very good co-operation with their Administration about how they control their fish. Yes their Magnuson–Stevens Act is very good and very strict-stricter than our proposal, I have to admit. But this is what we can do now, because the Member States have to be persuaded to agree to that. We are trying to co-operate with the United States to take their good ideas. Our approach is a little bit more flexible, because we have to go to Maximum Sustainable Yield, but we are giving ourselves a transitional period. Let us put it this way. I hope that the Member States will take my proposal and not water it down. Yes, you are absolutely right: I agree with you that there are some good lessons in the United States and we have to admit that they have done better than us. So have Australia, Norway and New Zealand.

Q170George Eustice: Have they taken a similar approach in terms of giving more force to the scientific evidence?

Maria Damanaki: Yes. All these countries have given more force to scientific advice than we have. Absolutely.

Q171George Eustice: Have you not included that sort of recommendation just because you do not think you will ever be able to get support for it?

Maria Damanaki: If you come up with such a recommendation-to go for this Act-that would be excellent for me. To copy this Act in the European Union would be excellent.

Q172Chair: Commissioner, you have not yet published the replacement or the successor for the European Fisheries Fund. We are expecting that, are we, in November?

Maria Damanaki: We will discuss in the Commission on 30 November the proposal and then we are going to discuss it with the Parliament and the Council. If you are interested, we can forward it to you as soon as it is ready.

Q173Chair: We would very much be interested.

Maria Damanaki: 30 November is the day when we are going to adopt. There are some innovations in this proposal, so maybe it would be good for you to be informed.

Q174Chair: Are you able to share with us today the types of activities that will be covered?

Maria Damanaki: Of course I can share that, because this is very important. The main change in our proposal is what I have tried to describe before: to stop scrapping-no more money for scrapping. It will be the end of giving money for new vessels and new engines-no more money. We will give money for certain purposes, including for the modernisation of vessels in order to be greener. That means selectivity of the gears, CCTV, satellites and control, and better safety conditions for the fishermen. These are some of the types of actions we will fund under the new vessels approach.

Then we have a new instrument for aquaculture, as I have already mentioned, with more money available than currently on offer. Then we have a new instrument for the new, as we call them, sustainable fisheries agreements, but only for the surplus and so on. We have an instrument for markets, which means storage mechanisms, labelling and the producer organisations, in order to try to put an end to discarding and so on. We have another instrument referring to the alternatives we are going to offer to our fishermen in order to compensate for the crisis. In a nutshell, those are our purposes. We are going to give money only to serve our reform proposal.

Q175Chair: Is that on the basis of cofinancing? Will it be matched funding?

Maria Damanaki: Yes, we are going to have some margin of manoeuvre here. For smallscale fisheries, there will be a separate line so we are going to give more money. The cofinancing referring to smallscale fisheries will be up to 80% in some areas, even 90% in the case of new instruments and new control systems.

Q176Chair: Is that 90% of the total cost or will 90% be from the Commission?

Maria Damanaki: All these instruments are cofinanced by the Commission and the Member States, but the contribution of the Commission can be increased. The Member States are coming to us with a project and we agree. They give their own part of the finance. The national Governments decide if they want to give their own part from their budget or from the people themselves, the fishermen themselves. It is their decision, but they can refer to our part of the funding, so our part has flexibility. It can go up if it is for smallscale fisheries, for control purposes. This is the idea. Of course, I do not know what their exact figures will be after the decision, but the idea is to have a margin and give more for smallscale fisheries, for control and the other purposes.

Q177Chair: When you talked earlier about compensating fishermen, have you worked out how much money would be available and what percentage of the lost income would be compensated?

Maria Damanaki: No, I cannot give you that figure. What I can say is I would be very happy to have this more than 6 billion for the whole of the programme for the next financial perspectives for seven years. At least we have 6 billion, I suppose. This is the only figure I can cite, though even this figure has to be negotiated with the Parliament and the Council. I hope that we will get this money, but I cannot tell you about the details.

Chair: We are very grateful to you for being so generous with your time.

Maria Damanaki: Thank you very much. It really was an honour. I would like to thank you. I am at your disposal if you have anything to add. Being a parliamentarian throughout my political life, I very much appreciate the help you can give to me.

Chair: We would be very grateful for what you have offered to provide us in writing, particularly about the European Fisheries Fund successor. We thank you very much. We wish you a good stay here and a safe journey back. Thank you very much.


[1] Correction by w itness: The Commissioner corrected this to : Member States in the Council have to decide about the TACs according to the plan .

Prepared 23rd February 2012