The EU is working to improve the existing European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) in the coming years to encourage a dynamic fishing sector, support generational renewal, and ensure a fair standard of living for coastal communities.
The Council today agreed its negotiating position ('partial general approach') on the proposal for a regulation on the 2021-2027 EMFF, which aims to support the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the EU's maritime policy and international commitments in the field of ocean governance, especially in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
"The EMFF is key to ensuring proper implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy's objectives. In the past its effectiveness was undermined by complex rules and red tape, but the Council is committed to make it a flexible and workable tool at the service of European fishermen", said Petre Daea, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Romania and President of the Council.
The negotiating position is defined as "partial" as it excludes at this stage budget-related and horizontal issues which are currently being negotiated in the context of the EU's next multiannual financial framework (MFF) covering the period 2021 to 2027.
While it remains generally close to the Commission proposal, the Council's partial negotiating position further improve the text by simplifying and clarifying the structure of the fund.
Moreover the agreed position will expand the scope of eligible operations to include those related to investments in on-board safety, labour conditions and energy efficiency, and to the acquisition or importation of fishing vessels, as well as the replacement or modernisation of engines for vessels up to 24 metres. However, these derogations will be subject to very restrictive conditions so as to avoid any increase in capacity and to fully respect the CFP objectives. For instance, to judge whether the first acquisition of a fishing vessel by a young fisherman is eligible for financing, the age and length of the vessel; the age, qualification or experience of the fisher, plus the requirement for a balanced segment of the fleet to which the vessel should belong will be taken into account.
Background and next steps
The EMFF is one of the five European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds which seek to promote a growth and job based recovery in Europe. So far the EMFF has in particular: helped fishermen in the transition to sustainable fishing, supported coastal communities in diversifying their economies, financed projects that create new jobs and improve quality of life along European coasts, and supported sustainable aquaculture developments.
On 13 June 2018 the Commission proposed a new regulation on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund as part of the next EU budget framework for the 2021-2027 period. The proposal aims to simplify the delivery of the EMFF by allowing member states to target support to their strategic priorities, instead of having to choose from a ‘menu' of eligible actions. The EMFF budget as proposed by the Commission would amount, in current prices, to EUR 6 140 000 000. EMFF resources are split between shared, direct and indirect management. EUR 5 311 000 000 is allocated to support under shared management and EUR 829 000 000 to support under direct and indirect management.
The European Parliament established its first-reading position on the proposal on 4 April 2019. Following the agreement on the partial general approach, negotiations with the European Parliament are now expected to start in the second half of 2019.