Documents considered by the Committee on 4 July 2012 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

11 Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy




COM(11) 417



+ ADDs 1-3

COM(11) 425

Commission Communication: Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy

Draft Regulation on the Common Fisheries Policy

Legal base(a) —

(b) Article 43(2) TFEU: co-decision; QMV

DepartmentEnvironment, Food & Rural Affairs
Basis of considerationMinister's letter of 24 June 2012
Previous Committee ReportHC 428-xxxvi (2010-12), chapter 1 (14 September 2011) and HC 428-xl (2010-12), chapter 1 (2 November 2011)
Discussion in CouncilDecision expected by mid 2013
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared (by a Resolution of the House on 8 November 2011)


11.1 The conservation aspects of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which came into operation in 1983, have endeavoured to maintain stock levels by limiting catches and fishing effort, by so-called technical conservation provisions, and by structural measures seeking to bring the catching capacity of the fleet into line with the fishing opportunities available to it. However, despite various changes made over the years, there has been general agreement that the Policy has not achieved its objectives, and that, as a result, many of the EU's fish stocks are in a parlous state.

11.2 The Commission duly produced in July 2011 this Communication (document (a)) and draft Regulation (document (b)), together with two further Communications — one reporting on the operation of current measures for the conservation of fisheries resources,[66] and the other dealing with the external dimension of the CFP[67]— and a separate draft Regulation[68] on the common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products.

11.3 We spelt out at some length in our Report of 14 September 2011 the contents of both document (a), which set out the main elements in the proposed reform, including the need for sustainable fishing (involving the elimination of discarding of fish, an obligation to land catches of regulated species, and the placing of greater reliance on multi-annual and multi-annual stock management plans), and securing a profitable industry by means of a system of transferable fishing concessions within individual Member States, and document (b) which sought to give legal effect to the changes proposed in the Communication. We concluded by saying that we had no hesitation, even at that early stage, in recommending the documents for debate, and that debate took place in European Committee A on 7 November 2011.

Subsequent correspondence

11.4 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Natural Environment at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr Richard Benyon) wrote to us on 11 June, alerting us to the fact that the pace of events had accelerated under the Danish Presidency, and that these two documents — along with the proposals on the common organisation of the market — would be on the agenda of the Fisheries Council the following day, when the Presidency would attempt to obtain agreement to a partial general approach.

11.5 He has now written to say that, despite some contentious issues, such an agreement was reached, which included action supporting nearly all the UK's detailed negotiating priorities, as set out in Annex A, and which he decided to support, not least to avoid the risk of the Articles being weakened if the discussions had been inconclusive. He adds that the agreement of a general approach is an important step, and that the first reading of this proposal will continue into the Cypriot Presidency, with the relevant European Parliament Committee expected to vote in the late autumn, followed by a plenary vote shortly afterwards. The first reading in the Council is then expected to be completed in early 2013, with a second reading likely to follow later that year.


11.6 We are grateful to the Minister for this update, and, although these two documents have been cleared by virtue of the debate in European Committee A on 7 November 2011 and the Resolution of the House of the following day, we think it right to draw these developments to the attention of the House.

66   (33024) 12518/11: see HC 428-xxxvi (2010-12), chapter 15 (14 September 2011). Back

67   (33025) 12517/11: see HC 428-xxxvi (2010-12), chapter 16 (14 September 2011). Back

68   (33026) 12516/11: see HC 428-xxxvii (2010-12), chapter 5 (12 October 2011). Back

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Prepared 12 July 2012