Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Ben Bradshaw MP, Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to the Chairman

  I am writing to bring you up to date on developments on the draft proposal to terminate the EU/Angola Fisheries Agreement and to derogate from certain measures on provision of Community structural assistance in the fisheries sector.

  I sent you an Explanatory Memorandum on the original proposal on 30 January 2006. This Explanatory Memorandum has now been cleared. However, there have been developments since then of which your Committee should be aware. By way of background, under the original proposal, fishing vessels which would be affected by the termination of the Agreement would not have had to pay back any tie-up aid or construction aid. Nor would they have had to demonstrate continuous fishing activity in Angolan waters in the year preceding the termination. The UK and certain other Member States objected the proposed derogation which would exempt these vessel owners from having to repay funding received.

  By way of compromise, the Presidency have proposed Spanish vessels which received aid and which are planning to be flagged as Angolan vessels will be allowed to keep it.

  However, Spain will not be allowed to replace the vessels which have moved to Angola. If the aid had been reimbursed it would have gone to the Spanish government and there would have been no implications for the EU budget. As such, we can support the compromise because it will not lead to an increase in fleet capacity.

  It is regrettable that this compromise has come forward so late in the day so your Committee has not had an opportunity to examine it properly.

28 June 2006

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