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Brussels, 27 March 2008.

Commission: new organisation will boost implementation of EU integrated maritime policy and Common Fisheries Policy

The European Commission has decided on a far-reaching reorganisation of the Directorate-General in charge of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs. The former “DG FISH” becomes the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and will now be known as DG MARE. The main change involves the setting up of three geographic Directorates that will be responsible for managing both the Common Fisheries Policy and the new EU integrated maritime policy (IMP) in Europe’s three main maritime regions. These will be complemented by a new Directorate in charge of co-ordination and policy development. The other two Directorates (External Policy, and Resources and Legal Affairs) will remain largely unchanged. There will be greater focus on Mediterranean fisheries and on control in international waters in line with the EU's commitment to fight illegal fishing. The new set-up takes effect on 29 March.

Commission President, José Manuel Barroso commented: "The new set-up in DG MARE highlights the Commission's determination to conduct an integrated and tailor-made maritime policy. It will allow the Commission to address in a consistent way all the issues pertaining to each of Europe’s main maritime regions and to the seas in general."

Joe Borg, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries added: "The new set up will also boost the implementation of the new EU integrated maritime policy. This will facilitate the use of all the instruments under the Common Fisheries Policy to achieve sustainability in European fisheries."

The three geographical Directorates will be in charge of:

  • Arctic, Atlantic and outermost regions
  • Mediterranean and Black Sea
  • North Sea, Baltic Sea and landlocked countries.

These will be complemented by a horizontal Directorate ensuring coordination and policy development. An international Directorate will retain responsibility for external policy for both fisheries and maritime affairs and for market-related issues. The last of the six Directorates making up DG MARE will be in charge of legal issues, resources, communication and relations with other institutions and stakeholders.

The new organisation should reinforce the Commission’s capacity to develop and implement policy for maritime affairs and fisheries alike. It will also allow for the co-ordinated use of all resources and policy tools in relation to each maritime region: maritime policy, conservation of fish stocks, fisheries control and enforcement, and structural policy.

The integrated maritime policy was adopted in October 2007 after an extensive stakeholder consultation. It aims at adopting an integrated approach towards Europe’s seas and oceans in order to develop synergies between sectoral policies (transport, environment, research, fisheries etc.) and to achieve a more efficient and sustainable interaction with our oceans and seas. EU Heads of State and Government endorsed the Commission's approach to the IMP in their December 2007 European Council Conclusions.

The IMP takes full account of the principle of subsidiarity and also aims at fostering better understanding of the interactions between all policy players dealing with the seas (EU institutions, Member States, coastal regions, private sector, civil society and other stakeholders). It also aims at developing new tools that can support a more integrated approach in, for example, maritime surveillance, data collection, spatial planning and other such policy areas. The restructuring of the Directorate-General in charge of coordinating this policy reflects the move to a more concrete phase in the development of the EU IMP and the implementation of this integrated approach within the Commission's internal organisation.

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is the EU legal framework for the management of fisheries. It covers management of resources, fleet issues, control and monitoring of fisheries activities, structural actions under the European Fisheries Fund, markets and international relations. In the 2002 reform of the CFP, steps were taken to adapt fisheries management more closely to the specificities of different seas and oceans. One of the main innovations brought about in this context was the creation of Regional Advisory Councils as fora for dialogue among stakeholders, and instruments to reinforce stakeholder consultation by the Commission and the Member States. The new structure also reflects the need to adapt to the successive enlargements of the European Union and the increased diversity of Europe’s fisheries regions.

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