Procedure : 2006/0156(CNS)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0477/2006

Texts tabled :

A6-0477/2006

Debates :

PV 31/01/2007 - 25
CRE 31/01/2007 - 25

Votes :

PV 01/02/2007 - 7.7
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2007)0017

REPORT     *
PDF 195kWORD 196k
21.12.2006
PE 378.552v02-00 A6-0477/2006

on the proposal for a Council regulation on the conclusion of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Gabonese Republic

(COM(2006)0454 – C6‑0303/2006 – 2006/0156(CNS))

Committee on Fisheries

Rapporteur: Stavros Arnaoutakis

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Budgets
 OPINION of the Committee on Development
 PROCEDURE

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a Council regulation on the conclusion of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Gabonese Republic

(COM(2006)0454 – C6‑0303/2006 – 2006/0156(CNS))

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council regulation (COM(2006)0454)(1),

–   having regard to Article 300(2), first subparagraph of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Article 300(3), first subparagraph, of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6‑0303/2006),

–   having regard to Rules 51 and 83(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Development (A6‑0477/2006),

1.  Approves the proposal for a Council regulation as amended and approves conclusion of the agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Gabonese Republic.

Text proposed by the Commission  Amendments by Parliament

Amendment 1

Recital 2 a (new)

(2a) The EC financial compensation shall be used for the development of coastal populations dependent on fisheries as well as for the creation of small local freezing and processing industries;

Amendment 2

Article 3 a (new)

 

Article 3a

 

During the final year of the Protocol's period of application and before any new agreement is concluded or the period of application of the Agreement attached to this Regulation is extended, the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament and the Council a report on the application of the Agreement and the conditions under which it was implemented.

Justification

Parliament and the Council should be informed by the Commission regarding the general assessment report for the agreement in question. Only after this should steps be taken towards negotiating a new fisheries agreement or extending the current agreement.

Amendment 3

Article 3 b (new)

 

Article 3b

 

The Commission shall report annually to the European Parliament and the Council on the results of the multiannual sectoral programme described in Article 7 of the Protocol.

Justification

In order to evaluate whether the compensation paid by the EU is properly accounted for and does in fact promote the sustainable use of fishery resources in Gabon, the Commission should report annually to Parliament.

Amendment 4

Article 3 c (new)

 

Article 3c

 

On the basis of the report submitted by the Commission pursuant to Article 3a and after consulting the European Parliament, the Council shall if appropriate confer upon the Commission a negotiating mandate with a view to the adoption of a new Protocol.

Justification

Parliament and the Council will be able to meet their respective obligations only in the light of an assessment report on the implementation of the fisheries agreement.

Amendment 5

Article 3 d (new)

 

Article 3d

 

The Commission shall evaluate each year whether Member States whose vessels operate under this protocol have complied with reporting requirements.

Justification

Vessels that do not comply with the most basic requirement, reporting what they catch, should not benefit from financial support from the EU.

(1)

Not yet published in OJ.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Introduction

This Commission proposal for a multi-annual Partnership Agreement covering relations in the fisheries sector with Gabon, is based on the principle of reciprocal cooperation and has as its aim to achieve sustainable fishing in the wider region. It forms part of the partnership approach to the external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy, put forward as part of the revision of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2002 and set out in the Commission's Communication on a Comprehensive Framework for Fishing Cooperation Agreements with Third Countries(1)

This approach, which provides for a sophisticated mechanism on partnership, is designed to ensure that both the interests of the EU distant-water fleet are protected and that the conditions to achieve sustainable fisheries in the waters of the partner concerned are strengthened. It was approved by the European Parliament in its resolution of October 2003(2) and subsequently by the Council in its conclusions of June 2004.

The new Agreement therefore goes beyond the narrow commercial framework of the previous bilateral agreement for access to Gabonese waters and will as the Commission itself has stated, open a new chapter in the cooperation between the EU and Gabon.

Assessment of the Agreement

The rapporteur would like to welcome the decision of the Commission, based upon recent scientific data concerning the state of fish stocks in the region, to decrease the fishing opportunities provided for in the Agreement. In addition, the importance of the introduction of satellite monitoring of fishing vessels into the agreement should be underlined, particularly with regard to the combating of illegal, undeclared and uncontrolled (IUU) fishing.

Nevertheless, considering the fact that the European Parliament was not given the opportunity to observe either the preparation or the negotiations leading up to the Agreement, attention should be drawn to a number of gaps and ambiguities in the Protocol which are not consistent with the E.U. fisheries policy.

With regard to the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Agreement:

In concrete terms, Article 3, entitled "Cooperation for Responsible Fishing - Scientific meeting", paragraph 4, refers only to general principles that aim at the sustainable management of fishing resources and the consequences that could possibly emerge from the activities of Community vessels. However, no reference is made to the natural environment in which fishing takes place, to the quality of waters, the likely pollution from oil products which exists in the region, the disturbance of the ecosystem from other factors and the consequences of all these on the fish catches.

· With regard to Article 7, "Promotion of responsible fishing in Gabonese waters", and specifically in paragraph 2, based on Article 9 of the Agreement, three months after the entrance into force of the Protocol a sectoral multi-annual program will be developed with three main objectives:

1.  Orientations on an annual and multi-annual base

2.  Achievement of the objectives through the promotion of sustainable fishery

3.  The criteria for the evaluation.

In this particular article, while the general framework and the governing principles are sound, the question should be raised as to why no provision is made for the communication of this information to the competent authorities in the Member States and to the European Parliament, so that they can be evaluated by those who are called upon to approve the Agreement.

· With regard to the monitoring and evaluation of the Agreement, the Legislative Financial Statement refers to a number of risks in implementing the Agreement including the possibility that:

-         funds intended to finance the sectoral fisheries policy and shipowners' fees might not be allocated as agreed (fraud)

-          foreign fleets ignore licences and controls.

These issues are not tackled in the Protocol, except for vague reference to the fact that the activities of maritime control should be improved, monitoring via satellites should be supported, measures in favour of the local fishermen should be financed, etc.

It is obvious therefore that this general document leaves numerous unanswered questions:

1.  Can the competent maritime authorities carry out controls? Do they have the relevant and necessary means and infrastructure (i.e. speed-boats, helicopters etc.), personnel, education and readiness?

2.  It is known that due to the flexibility of the legislation in Gabon, foreign - not Community - vessels, many of which have a flag of convenience, fish in its Exclusive Economic Area. What concrete measures is the Commission intending to adopt to deal with this situation, when European fishermen have to compete with pirates and criminals?

3.  Can monitoring by satellite bring produce direct results that will not get lost in the labyrinths of bureaucracy?

4.  What national and regional criteria and priorities will be applied to the distribution of the aid granted to local fishermen?

· While the current Protocol provides for the possibility of demersal fishing for prawn, this was never taken up, although the Government of Gabon granted private licences to European vessels for the same fishing opportunities. The new Agreement repeals these opportunities while at the same time introduces an exclusivity clause (Article 1, 3), preventing Community flagged vessels from fishing in the Gabonese EEZ outside the terms of the agreement. Thus, should it be concluded that vessels fishing for prawn with private licences will be obliged to cease their activities as from the date of entry into force of the new Agreement?

· The exclusivity clause is not included in Article 3 of the Agreement which refers to the fundamental principles upon which the Agreement is based - reference is made only in Article 1 of the Protocol. Therefore, the status of the clause becomes secondary, particularly given the fact that the terms of the Protocol are subject to review, whereas the Agreement’s provisions remain constant over time. Moreover, no concrete sanctions are identified in case of parallel existence of private licences, despite their prohibition under the Protocol.

Conclusion

Despite the questions raised above, the new Agreement offers, in a number of important respects, significant improvements over the old one and should therefore be approved.

However, your rapporteur would like to stress that the Commission would have gained much if the Parliament had been fully involved during the initial preparation phase and throughout the negotiations. At the very least the EP should have been informed on time about the initialling of the Agreement. It took almost 1 year from the day that the two sides initialled the Agreement for the text to be transmitted to the European Parliament.

· This is not acceptable and it is to be hoped that the new inter-institutional understanding now in place with regard to third country fisheries agreements, will prevent the reoccurrence of such events and will lead to an improved working relationship in the future.

(CNS)

(1)

COM(2002)0637, C5-0070/2003.

(2)

.


OPINION of the Committee on Budgets (12.12.2006)

for the Committee on Fisheries

on the proposal for a Council regulation on the conclusion of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Gabonese Republic

(COM(2006)0454 – C6‑0303/2006 – 2006/0156(CNS))

Draftswoman: Helga Trüpel

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

This proposal from the Commission is the latest in its continuing efforts to convert existing "fisheries agreements" to "fisheries partnership agreements" as the protocols for the former expire.

The new protocol will allow access to the waters of Gabon for the EU tuna fleet for a period of six years from 3 December 2005, as follows:

 

2006-2011

2001-2005

Purse seiners

24 (Spain, France)

38 (Spain, France)

Surface longliners

16 (Spain, Portugal)

26 (Spain, Portugal)

Trawlers (shrimp, cephalopods)

--

1 200 GRT (Spain, Greece)

That is a reduction in access of about 40% in the number of tuna vessels. The amount of tuna that the fleets are allowed to catch has, however, been increased slightly, from 10 500 tonnes per year to 11 000 tonnes.

In exchange for the right to fish, the EU will pay the Gabon government a total of €860000 per year, comprising €715 000 as compensation for the reference tonnage of 11 000 tonnes of tuna and per year, and a specific amount of €145 000 per year for the support and implementation of initiatives taken in the context of Gabon's sectoral fisheries policy. This is a decrease compared to the previous protocol - €1 262 500 per year.

In addition to the EU contribution, the ship-owners must pay licence fees, and the Commission calculates that these could amount to a further €142 000 for Gabon. Again in keeping with its commitment to increase the industry's share of the cost of these agreements, the fee that the ship-owners pay per tonne of tuna declared caught has been increased to €35 from €25 under the previous protocol.

In the new partnership agreements, a Joint Committee is to establish a multiannual "sectoral fisheries programme" which will decide how to spend, each year, 60% of the total compensation that Gabon has allocated for the development of responsible fisheries. Objectives are to be established and procedures developed to evaluate the results achieved each year. This new approach has the potential to improve the management of the agreement and, if the information is made public, its transparency as well. The Committee on Budgets should insist that it be kept informed of these evaluations. As this is a new development in protocols, it is too early to tell if it will prove useful, leading to more responsible and sustainable fisheries in Gabon, so we must follow this development carefully.

In the evaluations for a number of fisheries agreements (eg. Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, São Tomé y Príncipe), a major recurring problem has been the lack of proper reporting of catches. If vessels do not fulfil this most fundamental responsibility of fishing, it is difficult to see why they should continue to benefit from a significant EU subsidy - support for fishing in a third country. Thus, an amendment is proposed to prevent those vessels that do not report their catches from continuing to receive licences under the agreement.

AMENDMENTS

The Committee on Budgets calls on the Committee on Fisheries, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following amendments in its report:

Text proposed by the Commission(1)  Amendments by Parliament

Amendment 1

Article 3 a (new)

 

Article 3a

 

The Commission shall report annually to the European Parliament and the Council on the results of the multiannual sectoral programme described in Article 7 of the Protocol.

Justification

In order to evaluate whether the compensation paid by the EU is properly accounted for and does in fact promote the sustainable use of fishery resources in Gabon, the Commission should report annually to Parliament.

Amendment 2

Article 3 b (new)

 

Article 3b

 

The Commission shall evaluate each year whether Member States whose vessels operate under this protocol have complied with reporting requirements.

Justification

Vessels that do not comply with the most basic requirement, reporting what they catch, should not benefit from financial support from the EU.

Amendment 3

Article 3 c (new)

 

Article 3c

 

Prior to expiry of the Protocol and before the beginning of new negotiations for a possible renewal, the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament and the Council an ex post evaluation of the Protocol, including a cost-benefit analysis.

Justification

An evaluation of the current protocol is necessary before new negotiations begin in order to know what changes, if any, should be included in any possible renewal.

PROCEDURE

Title

Proposal for a for a Council regulation on the conclusion of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Gabonese Republic

References

COM(2006)0454 – C6‑0303/2006 – 2006/0156(CNS)

Committee responsible

PECH

Opinion by
  Date announced in plenary

BUDG
28.9.2006

Enhanced cooperation – date announced in plenary

 

Draftswoman
  Date appointed

Helga Trüpel

4.9.2006

Previous drafts(wo)man

 

Discussed in committee

11.12.2006

 

 

 

 

Date adopted

11.12.2006

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

19

Members present for the final vote

Reimer Böge, Herbert Bösch, Simon Busuttil, Gérard Deprez, Valdis Dombrovskis, Brigitte Douay, Szabolcs Fazakas, Salvador Garriga Polledo, Nathalie Griesbeck, Catherine Guy-Quint, Anne E. Jensen, Janusz Lewandowski, Vladimír Maňka, Jan Mulder, Esko Seppänen, László Surján, Kyösti Virrankoski

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Peter Šťastný

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

 

Comments (available in one language only)

...

(CNS)

(1)

Not yet published in OJ.


OPINION of the Committee on Development (5.10.2006)

for the Committee on Fisheries

on the proposal for a Council regulation on the conclusion of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Gabonese Republic

(COM(2006)0454 – C6‑0303/2006 – 2006/0156(CNS))

Draftswoman: Luisa Morgantini

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

The European Union's development co-operation policy and the common fisheries policy must be consistent, complementary and co-ordinated, contributing, as a whole, to poverty reduction and the sustainable development of the countries concerned.

The EU has committed itself to ensuring the sustainability of fisheries worldwide, as defined at the United Nations 2002 summit in Johannesburg, maintaining or restoring stock levels with a view to producing the maximum sustainable yield.

The EU has accepted the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization's "Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries".

The EU's presence in distant fishing grounds is a legitimate objective, but it must be recalled that the interests of the EU's fisheries ought to be protected in parallel with the interests of developing the nations with which fisheries agreements are signed.

We therefore welcome the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly resolution of 22 June 2006 on "fisheries and their social and environmental aspects in developing countries", in particular in so far as it considers that the protection of EU and ACP fishing interests must be coordinated with the sustainable management of fishery resources in economic, social and environmental terms on the one hand, and with the livelihoods of coastal communities dependent on fisheries on the other.

We further stress the reference made in the ACP-EU Fisheries Partnership Agreement to the observation of the Cotonou Agreement. We insist that full account must be taken of Article 9 of the Cotonou Agreement on human rights, democratic principles, good governance and the rule of law, and we welcome the guarantees given to the Committee on Development by the Commission services to the effect that they shall consider the content of Article 9 when negotiating agreements with developing countries, including non-ACP developing countries.

The proposed agreement will replace the Agreement between the European Community and the Gabonese Republic, which entered in force on 3 December 2001.

The protocol to the proposed agreement has been concluded for a period of six years from the date on which the appropriate adoption procedures are completed. It can be tacitly renewed for further six-year periods.

The protocol to the proposed agreement grants fishing possibilities for 24 freizer tuna seiners and 16 surface longliners, from Spain, Portugal and France, subject to a total of 40 licences.

The financial compensation is fixed at EUR 860 000 per year. From this amount EUR 715 000 covers a catch weight of 11 000 tons per year. An additional amount of EUR 145 000 per year is aimed at supporting and implementating initiatives taken in the context of the Gabonese sectoral fisheries policy.

If the overall quantity of catches exceeds 11 000 tonnes per year, the financial contribution shall be increased by EUR 65 for each additional tonne caught.

Shipowners' fees could create an additional annual income of around EUR 142 000 for Gabon.

We welcome the referred link to national initiatives and hope that they may include the financing of local infrastructure projects of processing and marketing of the fish, thus allowing local population to go beyond subsistence fisheries.

We also welcome the fact that the agreement is partly based on an ex-post and an ex-ante evaluation of local fisheries and that it fosters scientific and technical cooperation with local authorities. The above-mentioned ACP-EU resolution considers that scientific resource assessment must be a precondition for access to fishing, and that an annual evaluation of resources must be a condition for obtaining further fishing permits. We endorse this and ask both parties to take it into account.

We do not endorse the procedure adopted for this agreement because the Parliament should have played a part in the negotiation mandate, which the Council would have given to the Commission, and should be informed of the development of the negotiations.

Parliament was consulted about the proposed agreement in August 2006, ten months after the agreement was initiated with the aim of coming into effect on 3 December 2005. Parliament should object and should assert that this is unacceptable.

The Commission and the Council must reach an agreement on the conditions that would give the Parliament a real opportunity to be consulted. In the absence of such an agreement, the Committee on Fisheries should lead Parliaments reaction to the present status quo, including the option of voting against fisheries agreements submitted under the present procedure.

We therefore welcome the decision taken by the Committee on Development to organise a hearing in 2007 on the fisheries partnership agreements and the role that Parliament plays in the procedures as a first step in that direction.

AMENDMENTS

The Committee on Development calls on the Committee on Fisheries, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following amendments in its report:

Text proposed by the Commission(1)  Amendments by Parliament

Amendment 1

Recital 2 a (new)

(2a) The EC financial compensation shall be used for the development of coastal populations dependent on fisheries as well as for the creation of small local freezing and processing industries;

PROCEDURE

Title

Proposal for a Council regulation on the conclusion of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Gabonese Republic

References

COM(2006)0454 – C6‑0303/2006 – 2006/0156(CNS)

Committee responsible

PECH

Opinion by
  Date announced in plenary

DEVE
28.9.2006

Enhanced cooperation – date announced in plenary

 

Draftswoman
  Date appointed

Luisa Morgantini
4.9.2006

Previous drafts(wo)man

 

Discussed in committee

3.10.2006

 

 

 

 

Date adopted

3.10.2006

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

26

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Margrete Auken, Alessandro Battilocchio, Margrietus van den Berg, Danutė Budreikaitė, Marie-Arlette Carlotti, Thierry Cornillet, Nirj Deva, Alexandra Dobolyi, Michael Gahler, Filip Andrzej Kaczmarek, Glenys Kinnock, Maria Martens, Miguel Angel Martínez Martínez, Gay Mitchell, Luisa Morgantini, José Javier Pomés Ruiz, Horst Posdorf, Frithjof Schmidt, Jürgen Schröder, Anna Záborská, Mauro Zani

Substitutes present for the final vote

Milan Gaľa, Manolis Mavrommatis, Anne Van Lancker, Anders Wijkman, Gabriele Zimmer

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

 

Comments (available in one language only)

 

 · 

(1)

Not yet published in OJ.


PROCEDURE

 · 

Title

Proposal for a Council regulation on the conclusion of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Gabonese Republic

References

COM(2006)0454 – C6-0303/2006 – 2006/0156(CNS)

Date of consulting Parliament

20.9.2006

Committee responsible
  Date announced in plenary

PECH
28.9.2006

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)
  Date announced in plenary

BUDG
28.9.2006

DEVE
28.9.2006

 

 

 

Not delivering opinion(s)
  Date of decision

 

 

 

 

 

Enhanced cooperation
  Date announced in plenary

 

 

 

 

 

Rapporteur(s)
  Date appointed

Stavros Arnaoutakis
24.11.2005

 

Previous rapporteur(s)

 

 

Simplified procedure – date of decision  Date of decision

 

Legal basis disputed
  Date of JURI opinion

 

 

 

Financial endowment amended
  Date of BUDG opinion

 

 

 

Parliament to consult European Economic and Social Committee
– date decided in plenary

 

Parliament to consult Committee of the Regions – date decided in plenary

 

Discussed in committee

13.9.2006

3.10.2006

20.11.2006

21.12.2006

 

Date adopted

21.12.2006

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

16

2

0

Members present for the final vote

James Hugh Allister, Stavros Arnaoutakis, Elspeth Attwooll, Iles Braghetto, Niels Busk, Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos, Paulo Casaca, Zdzisław Kazimierz Chmielewski, Ioannis Gklavakis, Alfred Gomolka, Ian Hudghton, Heinz Kindermann, Rosa Miguélez Ramos, Philippe Morillon, Dirk Sterckx, Struan Stevenson, Daniel Varela Suanzes-Carpegna

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

James Nicholson, Carl Schlyter

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

 

Date tabled

21.12.2006

 

Comments (available in one language only)

...

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