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New fisheries challenges call for new measures – say local and regional elected politicians  

​ Today, in Brussels, the European Committee of the Regions voted by a large majority to adopt the proposals on the post-2020 future of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)

The European Union's assembly of regional and local representatives adopted the opinion written by the president of Finistère Departmental Council. Nathalie Sarrabezolles proposes increasing the budget for the post-2020 maritime and fisheries policies to 1% of the multiannual financial framework, due to the need to finance the blue economy, maritime surveillance and numerous projects to protect the environment, in addition to fisheries and aquaculture. The European Commission is proposing EUR 6.14 billion for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) under the forthcoming long-term 2021-2027 budget.

Cities and regions are calling for more resources to be allocated to fisheries and maritime policy in the next EU budget, by adding a further 0.47% of funding for the integrated maritime policy to the 0.53% of appropriations currently allocated to fisheries and aquaculture.

The CoR members back the call made by Nathalie Sarrabezolles (FR/PES) for the new Fund to be allocated 1% of the post-2020 European budget. In this scenario, the EMFF could increase by 6.8%.

The rapporteur, Nathalie Sarrabezolles welcomes the fact that there is a new EMFF regulation, enabling the proactive fisheries and maritime policy to be continued. However, she draws the attention of the Committee of the Regions to the earmarked funding, which displays a lack of ambition for a policy that is essential to the European Union's development.

The local and regional elected representatives consider that Member States need to be allowed to develop regional operational programmes as part of national programming. This way of organising programmes will encourage regional strategies to be put in place, and will enable the EMFF to be better channelled to deal with local issues.

They also approve of the increased use of simplified cost options, i.e. flat-rate reimbursement, standard scales of unit costs and flat rates designed to cut the red tape encumbering beneficiaries, as well as simple financial instruments accessible to the smallest companies.

The rapporteur calls for higher standards in terms of environmental conditions in the development of aquaculture, knowledge of inputs for fish farming and assessment of environmental impact. In particular, aid should not be granted to businesses whose activities significantly alter the marine environment of a protected area. Moreover, because of the risk of propagation in the environment, support should not be possible for the farming of genetically modified organisms.

The fishing industry must also help combat pollution and global warming. The representatives of local and regional authorities emphasise that the EMFF must therefore be able to assist research and innovation to improve energy efficiency and lower CO2 emissions.

At the same time, they regret the Fund's late entry into force and delays in the funding becoming available and being implemented. Achieving an agreement on the future long-term budget in 2019 will enable a smooth transition from the current (2014-2020) long-term budget to the new one, and will also ensure predictability and continued financing for the benefit of all.

European cities and regions note that, for reasons of timing, this draft regulation does not propose any companion measures in relation to Brexit. Depending on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, specific financial measures might be needed that are not currently anticipated in the draft regulation setting out the multiannual financial framework for 2021-2027.

Additional information

Opinion of the European Committee of the Regions – The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) beyond 2020: an investment in European coastal communities, Alberto Núñez Feijóo (ES/EPP)

European Parliament briefing on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), June 2017


Wioletta Wojewodzka

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