Fisheries MEPs approve rules for €6.5 billion EU aid fund
Operating rules for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) were approved by the Fisheries Committee on Wednesday. From 2014, the EMFF will fund EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) measures to make EU fisheries sustainable and develop aquaculture. The EMFF will also fund Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) cooperation among maritime stakeholders in different policy areas.
"The adoption of my report is a crucial step in protecting a European model of sustainable and competitive fishing", said rapporteur Alain Cadec (EPP, FR).
Towards sustainable fisheries in the EU
To give effect to Parliament's agreement with the Council on the forthcoming CFP, which obliges member states to set sustainable fishing quotas from 2015 and introduces a ban on discarding unwanted fish, the EMFF will help fishermen to comply with the new rules by supporting investments in more selective fishing gear or equipment to facilitate handling, landing and storage of unwanted catches.
A controversial amendment allowing funding to support investments to renovate small-scale and coastal fishing vessels more than 35 years years old was approved by a narrow majority, subject to conditions (the EU funding contribution must be less than 15% of the total investment and also less than €80,000, and the vessel's fishing capacity must be reduced by at least 40%).
The committee also amended the EMFF proposal to allow young fishermen under 35 years old to be granted up to €100,000 in individual start-up support if he or she buys a small-scale and coastal fishing vessel between 5 and 20 years old and has five years of professional experience in the sector.
The Common Fisheries Policy and the Integrated Maritime Policy will both be financed through the EMFF, on the grounds that using a single fund will help to simplify and integrate the two policies.
Furthermore, closely aligning arrangements for delivering EMFF funding with those proposed for EU regional policy funds should make EU funding rules more consistent. For example, there will be a single common management and control system for all these funds, which should help to reduce red tape.
The first reading plenary vote is to be taken at Parliament's second October part-session.