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European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Speech: State of play - Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy
Meeting of Agriculture and Fisheries Committees of National Parliaments/Dublin
11 March 2013
Dear Simon, chairpersons, Members of Parliaments,
I would like to thank Minister Coveney for inviting me here today.
It is only fitting that our meeting should take place at such an historic setting like Dublin castle. This venue has seen many important changes throughout Irish history. We are gathered today here to discuss another change: the change of fisheries Policy. I know from reading the position papers of the committees of national parliaments that you too already discussed a lot and generally have endorsed these changes. We need sustainable fishing by respecting the MSY principle, stopping wasteful discarding and taking decisions closer to citizens via regionalisation. I would like to give you my sincere thanks for your efforts and please continue to be involved.
Ladies and gentleman, the Council of Ministers has now agreed a general Approach on the new policy that includes all of the above. They agree to achieve MSY by 2015 where possible and by 2020 at the latest. They agree to a phased in discard ban with no exceptions. But they insist in phasing in solutions such as de minimis and year to year flexibility. Council agrees to start with fisheries, where the discard ban is easier to introduce and to end with other fisheries where we may need more time for the implementation of the landing obligation. The Council General Approach also includes regionalisation, voluntary TFCs and a set of principles for new external policy that follows the same way we fish in our waters and respects human rights. Let me at this stage thank Simon Coveney for his steer, which allowed Council to come to finalize its General Approach.
I am also very happy to inform you about the landslide vote in the European Parliament with over 500 votes across all political parties in favour of an ambitious reform. The European Parliament has set the level high for both MSY and the discard ban. They too endorse regionalisation of the new external policy and market and labelling policy. The result in the European Parliament is thanks to the excellent work of the rapporteur Ulrike Rodust and her team.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
These are radical changes that mean a U turn in the way we fish. The co-legislators are bringing together widely diverging views… coming up with compromises that have broad support. Let me say that this is not an easy job.
So what lies ahead of us now? We now move on to the trilogues where Council and European parliament will have to agree on the final outcome of the reform. This is going to be a tough job for Simon Coveney, but I have all the faith in him. I will support him so that we can have a good outcome with a real reform as soon as possible. If we can do this by June 2013 then I will be more than happy. But what is the most important is that we don't lose sight of the essentials and not give in to voices that seek a watering down the ambition of the reform..
I hope that you too will convey this message to your governments.
We can play a very important role, because you are very close to our fishermen and citizens.
We can explain that what we are doing is profitable for our fishermen because the healthy stocks can bring more fish in our nets. Better labelling and marketing more income and jobs.
To move to this new reality is not easy. So we cannot leave our fishermen alone to carry this burden. We must provide our support. So, we have proposed an important financial package of structural aid to help fishermen and fishing communities face these challenges, and to ensure that these changes are complemented with active policies to promote growth and jobs in coastal areas.
This proposal for a new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund is now being examined by the European Parliament, which has scheduled the adoption of their first reading position for June. The Council already adopted a partial general approach in November 2012 and will complete its position in April. We can expect the trilogues on this proposal to start sometime in July this year.