Local and regional leaders call the EU to increase the budget of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) from 0.6 to 1% of the total EU budget after 2020. The Committee backs the request of the Galicia President Núñez Feijóo to introduce a new financial instrument for small coastal communities to access venture capital and bank guarantees for loans. The EMFF is the Union's main financial instrument to support the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), standing at EUR 6 396 million. Currently, Spain, France, Italy, Poland and Portugal are the top five beneficiaries of the fisheries fund, accounting for 50% of its total (European Parliament, June 2017).
"We need a new financial instrument geared to small coastal communities, based on shared management, that supports the creation of new business initiatives, ensuring handover to the next generation and diversification of the fisheries industry while retaining its traditional character", said Alberto Núñez Feijóo (ES/EPP), President of Galicia and rapporteur of the opinion ‘ The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund beyond 2020 – Investing in Europe’s coastal communities’.
The members of the CoR support the head of the Galician government with regard to the following key points:
Continuing support for measures to compensate the fleet for socio-economic damage caused by environmental measures such as area closures, temporary stops and other measures limiting fishing activities;
Direct public support in the form of grants is the best option for fishing businesses due to their small average size;
Increasing support for applied research and data systematisation by at least 10%;
Supporting renewal of the fishing fleet focusing on improving living conditions on board. The average age of fishing vessels in the EU is 22.6 years;
Achieving a successful handover to the next generation through budgetary support for training and access to the sector via the purchase of vessels without generating an increase in fishing effort;
Simplification of the application process for EMFF funds, with adjustment for basins and regions through applications that can be managed by a single body.
The socio-economic impact of maritime and fisheries activity is substantial in many coastal regions. The sector contains more than 85 000 vessels, employs over 340 000 people throughout the whole chain, and produces more than 6 000 000 tonnes of fish and seafood from fishing and aquaculture.
The members of the CoR draw attention to the Fund's overall low level of implementation, standing at 2.7% in 2017, and to the problems arising from the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy such as reducing discards or achieving maximum sustainable yield (MSY).
The local and regional representatives regret the late entry into force of the EMFF and the delay in making funds available, considering that this delay is due to the fact that the validation process for the operational programmes was slow and the definition of eligible parties cumbersome and unclear.
Europe's cities and regions warn the European institutions that the United Kingdom's decision to leave the EU must not be used as a pretext to cut future funding to the EMFF.
European Parliament Briefing on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), June 2017
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