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Brussels, 24 June 2009

Fisheries: Simplification of fisheries rule is a success – and must continue!

The Commission yesterday presented to Council its Communication on the implementation of the 2006-08 Action Plan for simplifying and improving the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This report summarises the progress made during this period, and outlines how the Commission intends to continue working towards better and simpler fisheries legislation in future. The results achieved so far are encouraging: all the initiatives laid down in the 2006-08 Action Plan were completed. Fisheries legislation has become clearer, and its implementation costs both for administrations and for operators have been reduced. The report also highlights the use of impact assessments as a valuable tool for fine-tuning new legislation in advance.

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg commented: "Today's CFP is already considerably shorter, more coherent, and more accessible to users, thanks to our efforts over the last three years. Simpler, however does not yet mean simple. More will have to be done. Streamlining legal measures and reducing the resources required to manage EU fisheries is a core task for the Commission, now and in the future. And it lies at the heart of the way we would like to see the next CFP Reform developing. It is important for us, therefore, to work closely with the Member States and the fishing industry to achieve these objectives."

Simplification in its most literal sense means removing obsolete texts, codifying legal acts which have been made unnecessarily complicated by being amended several times, and gathering their provisions together under a single legal act. But for the Commission, it also embraces a range of actions and initiatives which make the practical application of the CFP less cumbersome and less costly. A good example of this is promoting the use of modern control tools and of information and communication technologies. The EU is a world leader when it comes to applying cutting-edge technology to fisheries management, with dramatic results in cost savings and operational effectiveness. The proposed new CFP control regime, also debated yesterday in Council, will itself represent a major leap forward in this sense, by empowering Member States to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by technology, while improving timeliness and accuracy in handling essential data. Another example of reducing administrative costs is the streamlining the data collection and only transmitting the really necessary data.

Broader use of impact assessments and public consultation have also improved the quality of EU fisheries legislation over recent years, by ensuring that proposals are tailored to meet the situations they address, and that the means proposed are proportionate to the underlying problems. The Commission remains committed to strengthening the role of consultation within the CFP, both through the formal bodies established for this purpose – the Advisory Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, and the Regional Advisory Councils – and through direct consultation with stakeholders and the general public.

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