#CFPReform - Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney, in his capacity as President of the European Council of Fisheries Ministers, last week welcomed the vote by the European Parliament on the reform agenda for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which has been prioritised for delivery by the Irish EU presidency.
The vote, which is seen a major step forward in the CFP reform process, follows the minister’s address to parliament on Tuesday last. At the address the minister appealed for all parties to work together towards an agreed CFP reform package to be delivered during the period of Ireland’s presidency.
These reforms, which prioritise long term sustainability of fishing stocks, elimination of the controversial practice of discards (dumping at sea) and a switch to long-term (scientifically based) planning for fisheries, were approved by the parliament on Wednesday 6 February.
The decision of the parliament follows the minister’s address last Tuesday during which he identified the reforms as a major priority on the Irish Government’s EU presidency agenda.
Minister Coveney stated: “I am delighted that the parliament has today decided to back these necessary and timely reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy and that the case for reform outlined in my recent address has been accepted in an agreed manner.
"I am particularly encouraged that this vote has occurred during the Irish EU Presidency. This shows the pivotal role which Ireland can play in influencing broader European Policy and in bringing together divergent views towards an agreed reform package for the CFP.
"Ireland has set out an ambitious work programme aimed at delivering an agreed reform package for the CFP by the end of June. This objective can only be realised if [European] Parliament, Council and the Commission work together focusing on the bigger picture of an agreed reform agenda to benefit all of Europe’s citizens.”
During his address to the plenary session of European parliamentarians, Minister Coveney expressed his view that a momentum was now gathering behind the drive to deliver an agreed reformed CFP package by the end of June.
Acknowledging to the parliament that he had set out an ambitious work programme for his presidency, the minister accepted that differences remain between the European Council and Parliament, particularly on the question of multi-annual fisheries plans.
Minister Coveney emphasised the significant areas of common ground between both institutions and his belief that this would eventually lead to an agreed way forward on most aspects of the reform package. He stressed that it was only in a framework of mutual cooperation and flexibility that the objective of a reformed CFP which prioritises long term fisheries sustainability could be delivered in the lifetime of the current Irish Presidency.
The minister acknowledged the challenges ahead and emphasised the importance for the EU Parliament, Council and Commission to work together on all the issues including delivering on maximum sustainable yield, the elimination of discards and regionalisation.
Following an exchange of views, the minister sought support for his objective of achieving political agreement by the end of June in addition to acceptance of the need for a different and more effective way of working to deliver on what is a commonly held objective. He committed to working constructively with the parliament on all outstanding issues.