REPORT on the proposal for a Council regulation on establishing a Community framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector and supporting scientific opinions on the Common Fisheries Policy

24.10.2007 - (COM(2007)0196 – C6‑0152/2007 – 2007/0070(CNS)) - *

Committee on Fisheries
Rapporteur: Paulo Casaca

Procedure : 2007/0070(CNS)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
A6-0407/2007
Texts tabled :
A6-0407/2007
Debates :
Texts adopted :

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a Council regulation on establishing a Community framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector and supporting scientific opinion on the Common Fisheries Policy

(COM(2007)0196 – C6‑0152/2007 – 2007/0070(CNS))

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2007)0196),

–   having regard to Article 37 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6‑0152/2007),

–   having regard to Rule 51 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A6‑0407/2007),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, pursuant to Article 250(2) of the EC Treaty;

3.  Calls on the Council to notify Parliament if it intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

4.  Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to amend the Commission proposal substantially;

5.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.

Text proposed by the CommissionAmendments by Parliament

Amendment 1

Recital 6

(6) Council Regulation (EC) No 1543/2000 of 29 June 2000 establishing a Community framework for the collection and management of the data needed to conduct the common fisheries policy needs to be reviewed in order to take due consideration of a fleet based approach towards fisheries management, the need to develop an ecosystem approach, the need for improved quality, completeness and broader access to fisheries data, more efficient support for provision of scientific advice and the promotion of cooperation among Member States.

(6) Council Regulation (EC) No 1543/2000 of 29 June 2000 establishing a Community framework for the collection and management of the data needed to conduct the common fisheries policy needs to be reviewed in order to take due account of a fleet-based approach towards fisheries management, the need to develop an ecosystem approach, the need for improved quality, completeness and broader access to fisheries data, more efficient support for provision of scientific advice and the promotion of cooperation among Member States. The Member States and the Commission should be obliged to ensure sufficient levels of confidentiality in accordance with the data concerned, the characteristics of the end-user and the national law in question.

Justification

In view of the very broad definition of the end-user in the proposal for a regulation (i.e. any natural or legal person ─ in other words, the general public), this would be the first time that an economic sector was obliged to make public all of its data ─ and not on request but in advance. A confidentiality threshold must therefore be ensured.

Amendment 2

Recital 9

(9) The obligations concerning access to the data covered by this Regulation are without prejudice to Member States’ obligations under Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC with regard to the environmental information as defined in Article 2(1) of that Directive.

(9) The obligations concerning access to the data covered by this Regulation are without prejudice to the obligations, rights and exceptions set out in Directive 2003/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2003 on public access to environmental information and repealing Council Directive 90/313/EEC with regard to the environmental information as defined in Article 2(1) of that Directive.

Justification

The reference to Directive 2003/4/EC concerns only Member States’ obligations. The directive nonetheless contains exceptions and, in particular, qualifies the cases in which Member States can put conditions for granting access to environmental data or even refuse such access. It is even more desirable for the fisheries sector to be able to benefit from such exceptions, with a view to the protection of internal information of a commercial, industrial, economic or other nature.

Amendment 3

Recital 14

(14) The data referred to in this Regulation should be put into computerised databases so that they are accessible to authorised end-users and can be exchanged. It is in the interest of the scientific community that data which does not allow for personal identification is available to any party who has an interest in the analysis of such data.

(14) The data referred to in this Regulation should be put into computerised databases so that they are accessible to authorised end-users and can be exchanged.

Justification

For the scientific community to have access to the data, the latter do not need to be available to anyone claiming an interest where there is no guarantee of how such ‘interested’ parties will use the data. In addition, the data may include, as well as personal identification, highly sensitive information which could even be used against the fisheries sector or against undertakings considering themselves obliged to provide it.

Amendment 4

Recital 16 a (new)

 

(16a) Where the end-user is not a public body, a recognised scientific research centre, an international fisheries management organisation, or a body associated with any of the above for purposes of fisheries research or management, and where the persons, bodies or associations concerned are private, the public authorities should be allowed to charge for providing the information referred to in this Regulation. The sum charged, however, should be reasonable.

Justification

Under the environmental legislation, public authorities may charge for providing environmental data to the public. If access is guaranteed for fishery policy managers, scientific bodies and international fisheries organisations, it is not acceptable that private users and individuals should have to pay for environmental information while enjoying free access to data on fishing fleets and industries. This could also provide public authorities with an additional source of income, complementing the Community financial contribution, with a view to improving the quality, storage, flow and transmission of the data.

Amendment 5

Article 2, point (g)

(g) “end-users” means natural or legal persons or organisations with an interest in the scientific analysis of data concerning the fisheries sector;

(g) “end-users” means national or international bodies which, whether or not scientific in nature, are active partners and participants in fisheries research or management; the degree of connectedness of the end-user to fisheries management and research shall determine his level of access to the primary, detailed or aggregated data;

Amendment 6

Article 7, paragraph 4, point (c)

(c) where an official request for data has been made by an end-user and the data are not delivered on time to the end-user concerned.

(c) where an official request for data has been made by an end-user and the data are not delivered on time to the end-user concerned, subject to the provisions of Articles 3 and 4 of Directive 2003/4/EC,

Justification

Directive 2003/4/EC lays down a series of obligations for the release of data by Member States, but also establishes a list of conditions to be met by end-users requesting the data, as well as the grounds on which Member States may refuse requests. It is neither logical nor juridically correct, when extending the rules governing environmental data to a data relating to fisheries activity, for the above conditions not to apply or for Member States to be subject to automatic financial penalties.

Amendment 7

Article 7, paragraph 4 a (new)

 

4a. The Commission shall clearly define different kevels of penalisation according to the seriousness of the failure to comply, as also “official request for information” and “incomplete national programme”.

Amendment 8

Article 7 a (new)

 

Article 7a

Charges

 

1. Where the end-user is not a public body, a recognised scientific research centre, an international fisheries management organisation, or a body associated with any of the above for purposes of fisheries research or management, and where the persons, bodies or associations concerned are private, the public authorities may charge for providing environmental information. The sum charged, however, should be reasonable.

 

2. Where charges are applied, public authorities shall publish and make available to those requesting information the scale of charges, specifying in what circumstances charges may or may not apply.

 

 

Justification

Under the environmental legislation, public authorities may charge for providing environmental data to the public. If access is guaranteed for fishery policy managers, scientific bodies and international fisheries organisations, it is not acceptable that private users and individuals should have to pay for environmental information while enjoying free access to data on fishing fleets and industries. This could also provide public authorities with an additional source of income, complementing the Community financial contribution, with a view to improving the quality, storage, flow and transmission of the data.

Amendment 9

Article 10, paragraph 4 a (new)

 

4a . In the definition of expenditure to be included in the national programme, account should be taken of expenditure arising from the self-sampling programmes.

Amendment 10

Article 13, paragraph 2, point (b)

(b) detailed and aggregated data derived from primary data collected under national programmes are validated before their transmission to end-users;

(b) detailed and aggregated data derived from primary data collected under national programmes are validated before their transmission to end-users, as defined in Article 2(g);

Justification

In the interests of confidentiality, there should, for all potential end-users, be a graduated system of access to data according to whether they are primary, detailed or aggregated.

Amendment 11

Article 15, paragraph 1

1. Member States shall ensure that the primary data incorporated into the national computerised databases are directly accessible by electronic means by the Commission for the purpose of verifying that the data exist.

1. With a view to verifying the existence of the mandatory primary data to be collected under this Regulation, the Commission may carry out spot checks on the national databases.

Justification

The Commission proposes, as a means of verifying the existence of the data to be compiled under this regulation, that it should have direct access to the national databases where the material is stored. It seems preferable to operate a system of access on request for the Commission.

Amendment 12

Article 15, paragraph 2

2. Without prejudice to the obligations established by other Community rules, Member States shall conclude agreements with the Commission relating to computer access in order to guarantee direct access to their databases.

2. Without prejudice to paragraph 1 above, the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, may develop an IT platform for the exchange of the information enabling such checks to be made.

Justification

The Commission proposes, as a means of verifying the existence of the data to be compiled under this regulation, that it should have direct access to the national databases where the material is stored. It seems preferable to operate a system of access on request for the Commission.

Amendment 13

Article 15, paragraph 3

3. Member States shall ensure that the primary data collected under the surveys at sea schemes are transmitted to international scientific organisations and appropriate scientific bodies within regional fisheries organisations in accordance with the international obligations of the Community and the Member States.

3. The Commission and the Member States shall ensure that the primary data collected under the surveys at sea schemes are transmitted to international scientific organisations and appropriate scientific bodies within regional fisheries organisations in accordance with the international obligations of the Community and the Member States.

Justification

Article 15(1) of the proposal states that the Commission shall have direct access to Member States’ data. In the case of the RFOs, for instance, the contracting party is the EU, not the Member States, and the Union should therefore also be the guarantor of the proper transmission of the data. This would ensure that incorrect practice on the part of a Member State does not result in the Union failing to meet its international obligations.

Amendment 14

Article 15, paragraph 3 a (new)

 

3a. The Commission shall provide for access to these data, which may include individual data, e.g. of a vessel. However, the confidentiality of the information of the economic agent must be safeguarded. Thus, the Commission may have access to aggregated (not individual) data, in line with the definition of aggregation to be included in the implementing regulation.

Amendment 15

Article 17

Member States shall make detailed and aggregated data available to end-users to support scientific analysis:

(a) as a basis for advice to fisheries management;

(b) in the interest of public debate and stakeholder participation in policy development;

(c) for publication in research journals or for educational purposes.

Member States shall make data available to end-users, as defined in Article 2(g), to support scientific analysis, ensuring the confidentiality of such data and taking account of the following:

(a) detailed data as a basis for advice to fisheries management;

(b) aggregated data:

- in the interest of public debate and stakeholder participation in policy development;

- for publication for scientific purposes.

Justification

In the interests of confidentiality, there should, for all potential end-users, be a graduated system of access to data according to whether they are primary, detailed or aggregated.

Amendment 16

Article 18

Member States shall ensure that relevant detailed and aggregated data is provided immediately to relevant international scientific organisations and appropriate scientific bodies within regional fisheries organisations in accordance with the international obligations of the Community and the Member States.

The Commission and the Member States shall ensure that relevant detailed and aggregated data are provided immediately to relevant international scientific organisations and appropriate scientific bodies within regional fisheries organisations in accordance with the international obligations of the Community and the Member States.

Justification

Article 15(1) of the proposal states that the Commission shall have direct access to Member States’ data. In the case of the RFOs, for instance, the contracting party is the EU, not the Member States, and the Union should therefore also be the guarantor of the proper transmission of the data. This would ensure that incorrect practice on the part of a Member State does not result in the Union failing to meet its international obligations.

Amendment 17

Article 19, paragraph 2

2. Where detailed and aggregated data are requested for publication in research journals or for educational purposes, Member States may, in order to protect the professional interests of the data collectors, withhold data transmission to the end-users for a period of two years following the date of collection of the data. Member States shall inform the end-users and the Commission of any such decisions. In duly justified cases the Commission may authorise that period to be extended.

2. Should detailed and aggregated data be requested beyond the provisions of Article 17, and in particular for publication in research journals or for educational purposes, Member States may, in order to protect the professional interests of the data collectors, withhold data transmission to the end-users for a period of two years following the date of collection of the data. Member States shall inform the end-users and the Commission of any such decisions. In duly justified cases the Commission may authorise that period to be extended.

Justification

In the interests of confidentiality, there should, for all potential end-users, be a graduated system of access to data according to whether they are primary, detailed or aggregated.

Amendment 18

Article 19, paragraph 3. introductory part

3. Member States may refuse to transmit the relevant detailed and aggregated data only:

3. Member States may apply, mutatis mutandis, the conditions laid down in Article 4 of Directive 2003/4/EC. In particular, Member States may refuse to transmit the relevant detailed and aggregated data.

Justification

Directive 2003/4/EC lays down a number of grounds on which Member States may refuse certain data transmission requests. There is no reason why the same conditions should not apply to fisheries sector data.

Amendment 19

Article 19, paragraph 3, point (a)

(a) if there is a risk of natural persons and/or legal entities being identified in which case the Member State may propose alternative means to meet the needs of the end-user which ensure anonymity;

(a) if there is a risk of natural persons and/or legal entities being identified;

Justification

It is understandable that public administrations should dedicate a certain effort to making given types of information available to other institutions and the general public, but this does not mean they have to end up as their servants. The information should include sufficient detail to enable users to be aware of what they have to do in order to obtain the data they seek.

Amendment 20

Article 19, paragraph 3, point (b a) (new)

 

(ba) in the case of detailed data, where the applicant cannot demonstrate that such data are essential for the management or research activity invoked.

Justification

It is very easy today for certain organisations or individuals to claim a scientific or management interest when requesting data on fishing fleets or fisheries activities or undertakings. It is therefore desirable to establish minimal guarantees.

Amendment 21

Article 25, subparagraph 1 a (new)

 

On the basis of the information received, the Commission shall each year draw up:

(a) a report for the European Parliament and the Council evaluating the means employed by each Member State, the appropriateness of the methods used and the results achieved in the collection and management of the data covered by Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002;

 

(b) a report on the Community use of the data collected under the present Regulation.

Justification

Annual reports are all the more necessary, given that they would give greater impetus to the activities covered by the regulation, primarily in terms of checking destinations and of possible sanctions.

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Rationale of the proposal

The systematic collection of reliable basic data on fisheries is the cornerstone of evaluating fish stocks and of scientific opinion and plays an important part in implementing the common fisheries policy (CFP).

The proposal for a new regulation on data collection is intended as a response to the demands arising from the need to move towards fisheries management which is geared in particular towards fleets and fishing areas rather than fish stocks, and towards an ecosystemic approach to fisheries management.

The proposal relates closely to the environmental aspects of fishing activities. It provides the basic input necessary to apply the ecosystemic approach in fisheries management and also takes into consideration the need to simplify the current legislation.

Moreover, the Green Paper entitled ‘Towards a future maritime policy for the Union: a European vision for the oceans and the seas’ acknowledges the crucial importance of implementing an EU maritime strategy for collecting and managing reliable data and information on marine activities, as well as their impact on the resource base.

It also addresses existing problems of harmonisation and reliability of the data collected as well as gaps in monitoring within EU regions. An improved framework for the collection and management of data will represent a step in this direction.

The new data collection system will cover the whole of the process, from the collection of data in ports and at sea to their use by the final users.

Financial aid from the Community should be dependent on quality control and respect for generally accepted quality standards. Financial penalties for non-compliance or poor quality of national programmes have been introduced.

Objectives of the Commission proposal

One objective of the Commission proposal is to re-examine in depth the current legal framework governing the collection of basic data on fisheries and their use in drawing up scientific opinions.

Another is to improve access to data and its use, including access to additional sets of data such as Vessel Monitoring Satellite (VMS) data.

New rules have been defined to this end, as well as rules on the use of data to protect the interests of the data providers.

Simplification of the procedures is another important goal, as national programmes will henceforth be established for a 3-year period; however, the possibility would then be given to the Member States to make changes when necessary, to allow increased international coordination, for example.

Multiannual planning periods will reduce the administrative burden for all parties concerned.

Rapporteur’s observations and suggested amendments

Before commenting on the content of the Commission proposal, the rapporteur would like to address a legal question concerning the present report.

(a) The committee is currently reflecting on aquaculture for the collection of data for statistical purposes. This is an area which requires considerable thought.

The proposal which is being analysed in that case is based on Article 37 and not Article 285 of the EC Treaty, which forms the legal basis for Community statistics and would give us the right of codecision.

Acting under the codecision procedure, the Council is empowered to adopt measures to compile statistics if this is necessary for the performance of Community activities.

The same article lays down rules for the production of Community statistics, which must be compiled in conformity with the principles of impartiality, reliability, objectivity, scientific independence, cost-effectiveness and confidentiality of statistical information.

Until there is a new treaty, there will be no codecision on fisheries policy.

The rapporteur is currently awaiting a reply from Parliament’s Legal Service, which has been consulted about the legal framework of proposal COM(2007)0196 and asked to examine why it was not possible to apply the same codecision procedure.

This is one of the main problems which the rapporteur, as the European Parliament’s representative, is facing with regard to the Commission project.

(b) The second item which the rapporteur would like to highlight arises from a debate which has already taken place in the Council and which has been resumed under the Portuguese presidency.

Many doubts remain within the Council, and the majority of Member States consider that the Commission proposal lacks clarity with regard to the information required, the destination of such information, and possible sanctions.

However, the rapporteur is convinced that the European Commission intends to consider the positions and objections of the various Member States.

(c) The third item which the rapporteur would like to highlight stems from the fact that the current proposal includes the ecosystemic aspect, and that this lies at the core of the information required from the Member States. For this reason, the rapporteur stresses the need for the Commission to be as specific as possible in the proposal and on one level supports the criticism levelled by the Member States at the Commission.

With regard to the question of confidentiality of data, a very interesting problem which is intrinsically bound to data collection, the rapporteur highlights the problems of competition and competence among fishermen.

He suggests setting up an arbitration council, which would be an agency at European Union level and which could, on a case-by-case basis, decide on whether or not a given item of information should be circulated and, in particular, who should receive it and at what aggregation level.

This issue needs to be tackled if there is to be improved control.

By way of conclusion, the present proposal should be viewed in a positive light, in so far as it contributes to an improvement in the ecosystemic approach to fisheries management.

The rapporteur considers that the changes which have been introduced should facilitate better analysis, management and use of scientific opinions.

The majority of the suggested amendments aim at improving the clarity and consistency of the text. The rapporteur supports the Commission’s proposal, subject to the changes proposed in the amendments tabled.

Meanwhile we continue to wait for the opinion of Parliament’s Legal Service.

PROCEDURE

Title

Data in the fisheries sector and scientific advice regarding the common fisheries policy.

References

COM(2007)0196 - C6-0152/2007 - 2007/0070(CNS)

Date of consulting Parliament

1.6.2007

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

PECH

7.6.2007

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)

       Date announced in plenary

BUDG

7.6.2007

ENVI

7.6.2007

 

 

Not delivering opinions

       Date of decision

BUDG

9.10.2007

ENVI

3.5.2007

 

 

Rapporteur(s)

       Date appointed

Paulo Casaca

23.5.2007

 

 

Discussed in committee

5.6.2007

 

 

 

Date adopted

22.10.2007

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

17

4

2

Members present for the final vote

Jim Allister, Alfonso Andria, Stavros Arnaoutakis, Elspeth Attwooll, Marie-Hélène Aubert, Iles Braghetto, Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos, Paulo Casaca, Zdzisław Kazimierz Chmielewski, Emanuel Jardim Fernandes, Carmen Fraga Estévez, Hélène Goudin, Pedro Guerreiro, Ian Hudghton, Heinz Kindermann, Rosa Miguélez Ramos, Philippe Morillon, Seán Ó Neachtain, Luca Romagnoli, Struan Stevenson, Catherine Stihler, Margie Sudre

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Thomas Wise

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

Willem Schuth

Date tabled

24.10.2007