Documents considered by the Committee on 18 April 2018 Contents

3Adoption of detailed EU fishing rules

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Document details

Commission Report in respect of the delegation of powers referred to in Article 11(2), Article 15(2), (3), (6), (7) and Article 45(4) of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on the Common Fisheries Policy

Legal base

Department

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Document Number

(39516), 6579/18, COM(18) 79

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

3.1Most fisheries policy falls within the exclusive competence of the European Union — the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The European Parliament and Council of Ministers set the framework for the policy, but detailed decisions — such as the practical implementation of the discard ban (landing obligation) in the North Sea — are formally taken by the European Commission, but with the close involvement of national experts and stakeholders. Known as Delegated Acts, these decisions can be opposed, and ultimately blocked, by either the European Parliament or Council. The Commission’s document reports on how the Commission has exercised its delegation of powers in this area. During the post-Brexit implementation period, such Acts will apply to the UK, including those Acts adopted after the UK has left the EU in March 2019.

3.2Since the entry into force of the CFP Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013), 15 UK-relevant Delegated Acts have been adopted under it (see Annex), most of which related to implementation of the discard ban.

3.3As an EU Member State, the UK is involved in the development of these Acts at different stages. The first stage involves those Member States with a direct management interest agreeing to submit a Joint Recommendation to the Commission on how the objectives can be achieved. When shaping Joint Recommendations, Member States should consult the relevant stakeholder Advisory Councils, which include UK representatives from both industry and non-governmental organisations. The draft Acts are then submitted to scientific experts on the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) — four of the 32 members are currently from the UK — and, finally, to the Expert Group for Fisheries and Aquaculture, comprising representatives of the Member States. The European Parliament and Council (including the UK and UK Members of the European Parliament) can object within two months following adoption by the Commission.

3.4According to the draft Withdrawal Agreement (“the Agreement”), the UK will no longer be a member of any EU institutions or bodies during the post-Brexit implementation period. The UK may, however, be invited to meetings of Commission expert groups as long as: either the discussion concerns individual acts to be addressed during the transition period to the UK or to natural or legal persons residing or established in the UK; or the presence of the UK is necessary and in the interest of the EU, in particular for the effective implementation of EU law during the transition period. Furthermore, the UK shall be consulted by the EU on draft EU acts which identify or refer directly to specific Member State authorities, procedures, or documents. Both sides are required under the Agreement to operate under the concept of “good faith”, without prejudice to the application of Union law pursuant to the Agreement, in particular the principle of sincere cooperation. Finally, a Joint Committee will be charged with overseeing implementation of the Agreement and will be able to seek appropriate ways and methods of preventing problems that might arise or of resolving disputes.

3.5The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (George Eustice) considers that no policy implications arise. The UK has actively contributed to Joint Recommendations for existing Delegated Acts applicable to the UK fleet and the UK is currently working within the North Sea and North Western Waters regional groups of Member States on Joint Recommendations for 2019 discard plans that will outline rules for full implementation of the landing obligation from 1 January 2019.

3.6We note the Minister’s view that no policy implications arise from this document, but we do not agree. By contrast, we consider that the document provides a stark illustration of the challenge that the UK will need to meet in engaging with relevant EU fisheries rules affecting its fleet during the post-Brexit implementation period.

3.7The UK can currently influence Delegated Acts adopted under the CFP Regulation in a number of ways as set out above. As we interpret the draft Agreement, there are no arrangements at all for UK engagement in Joint Recommendations or the Advisory Councils. The UK may be invited to the Expert Group for Fisheries and Aquaculture, and potentially to the STECF. It clearly would not be able to participate in either the Council or the European Parliament. The Commission might be obliged to consult the UK on draft Delegated Acts should they be deemed to identify or refer directly to specific Member State authorities, procedures, or documents, although it is unclear what such consultation would constitute and at what stage it would be.

3.8Noting the UK’s active contributions to date in discussions on Joint Recommendations relevant to the UK, and noting the likelihood that UK-relevant fisheries Delegated Acts will be proposed, adopted and implemented during the implementation period, we ask the Minister to explain:

3.9We note that the draft Agreement includes both the obligation on both parties to operate under the principle of good faith and the possibility for any disputes to be considered by the Joint Committee. How either of these mechanisms will work in practice is yet to be considered in any detail, and we note that significant caveats apply to the good faith provision. That said, these are potentially helpful back-stop provisions, aiming to ensure that the EU does not take action that would harm the UK (and vice versa). We would nevertheless hope that the UK Government would aspire not simply to avoid harm but to ensure that law applicable to UK fisheries is well-suited to UK circumstances. We therefore ask the Minister how confident — irrespective of the good faith clause and the Joint Committee mechanism — the Government is that it will be able to represent UK fisheries and marine environment interests during the implementation period as effectively as it currently does, taking into account the considerations that we have set out above.

3.10We note that the delegation power will be tacitly extended for another five years unless opposed by either the European Parliament or the Council by 29 September 2018. Given that the acts adopted under the delegation power will apply during the implementation period, but without full UK involvement, we ask whether the UK would consider opposing the extension.

3.11 We hold the Report under scrutiny and draw it to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

Full details of the documents

Commission Report in respect of the delegation of powers referred to in Article 11(2), Article 15(2), (3), (6), (7) and Article 45(4) of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on the Common Fisheries Policy: (39516), 6579/18, COM(18) 79.

Background

3.12The Commission Report sets out how the Commission has exercised delegated powers within the CFP Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013) and provides a list of the Delegated Acts adopted.

3.13Delegated Acts can be adopted in respect of:

3.14This power to adopt Delegated Acts is conferred on the Commission for a period of five years from 29 December 2013. The delegation of power will be tacitly extended for further five-year periods unless the European Parliament or the Council opposes this extension. If they do choose to oppose, this should be done no later than three months ahead of the end of the current five-year period.

Explanatory Memorandum of 13 March 201882

3.15The Minister considers that no policy implications arise from this Report. He adds:

“The UK has actively contributed to Joint Recommendations for existing delegated acts that are applicable to the UK fleet. The UK is currently working within the North Sea and North Western Waters regional groups on Joint Recommendations for 2019 discard plans that will outline rules for full implementation of the landing obligation from 1 January 2019.”

Previous Committee Reports

None.

UK-relevant Delegated Acts adopted under Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013

Delegated Acts in Force

Delegated Acts adopted by the Commission but not yet in force

Delegated Acts that have expired or been repealed


82 Explanatory Memorandum from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.




Published: 24 April 2018