The new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund will continue to support the European fisheries sector towards more sustainable fishing practices, with a particular focus on supporting small-scale fishermen. It will also help unleash the growth potential of a sustainable blue economy towards a more prosperous future for coastal communities. For the first time, it will contribute to strengthening international ocean governance for safer, cleaner, more secure, and sustainably managed seas and oceans. Finally, the Commission is reinforcing the environmental impact of the Fund with a focus on protecting marine ecosystems and an expected contribution of 30% of its budget to climate change mitigation and adaptation, in line with the commitments agreed under the Paris Agreement.
Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: "Healthy, well-managed oceans are a pre-condition for long-term investments and job creation in fisheries and the broader blue economy. As a global ocean actor and the world's fifth largest producer of seafood, the European Union has a strong responsibility to protect, conserve and sustainably use the oceans and their resources. The Fund will allow Member States and the Commission to live up to that responsibility and invest into sustainable fisheries, food security, a thriving maritime economy, and healthy and productive seas and oceans."
Fisheries are vital to the livelihood and cultural heritage of many coastal communities in the EU. Together with aquaculture, they also contribute to food security and nutrition. A particular focus of the Fund will be to support small-scale coastal fishermen, with vessels below 12 metres, which represent half of European employment in the fishing sector. Since the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2014, progress has been made in bringing fish stocks back to healthy levels, in increasing the profitability of the EU's fishing industry, and in conserving marine ecosystems. The new Fund will continue to support these socio-economic and environmental objectives.
As regards the maritime economy, the Commission proposes to strengthen its support compared to the 2014-2020 period. This is a high-potential economic sector whose worldwide output is estimated at €1.3 trillion today and could more than double by 2030. The maritime fund will enable investment in new maritime markets, technologies and services such as ocean energy and marine biotechnology. Coastal communities will receive more and broader support to set up local partnerships and technology transfers in all blue economy sectors, including aquaculture and coastal tourism.
In the context of the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Union has also committed at international level to make seas and oceans safer, more secure, cleaner and more sustainably managed. The new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund will support these commitments for better international ocean governance. It will, among others, also provide the necessary funding to improve maritime surveillance, security and coastguard cooperation.
To ensure that the fund is both efficient and effective, it comprises several new features, such as:
- Simplification and a wider choice for Member States, who will now be ableto target support to their strategic priorities, instead of having to choose from a ‘menu' of eligible actions.
- Better alignment with other European Union funds. Rules applying to all structural and investment funds are set out in a Common Provisions Regulation.
- A better targeting of support to the achievement of the Common Fisheries Policy.
A swift agreement on the overall long-term EU budget and its sectoral proposals is essential to ensure that EU funds start delivering results on the ground as soon as possible. Delays similar to the ones experienced at the beginning of the current 2014-2020 budgetary period would mean that the needs of fishermen, coastal communities and the protection of the marine environment they depend on will not be addressed with the required urgency.
An agreement on the next long-term budget in 2019 would provide for a seamless transition between the current long-term budget (2014-2020) and the new one, and would ensure predictability and continuity of funding to the benefit of all.
The new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund is part of the multiannual financial framework 2021-2027, the new EU long-term budget that enters into force on 1 January 2021. The proposed budget combines new instruments with modernised programmes to deliver efficiently on the European Union's priorities and to rise to new challenges.
The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund will co-finance projects alongside national funding streams, with each Member State receiving a share of the total budget. Member States draw up their national operational programmes, specifying how they intend to spend the money. Once approved by the Commission, national authorities decide which projects they wish to support.
For More Information
Legal texts and factsheets on natural resources and environment available here.
Q&A available here.
More information on the EU budget for the future available here.