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Debates
Tuesday, 22 February 2005 - Strasbourg OJ edition

20. Fisheries Control Agency
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  President. – The next item is the report (A6-0022/2005) by Mrs Elspeth Attwooll, on the proposal for a Council regulation establishing a Community Fisheries Control Agency and amending Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93 establishing a control system applicable to the Common Fisheries Policy.

 
  
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  Borg, Member of the Commission. Mr President, first of all, I would like to thank the honourable Member for her report on the proposal for a Council regulation establishing a Community Fisheries Control Agency and amending Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93 establishing a control system applicable to the common fisheries policy.

The Commission views the establishment of the agency as a crucial element in the implementation of the reform of the common fisheries policy. You will recall that the creation of this agency is a clear signal that more uniform and effective enforcement of the rules is a priority for the reformed common fisheries policy. We believe that a well-functioning agency will be critical not only in enhancing the control capacity of Member States but also in further committing ourselves to combating illegal fishing. In addition, it is our firm belief that, as our control capabilities are enhanced, so too is the reliability of the data that is available to scientists, thus contributing to sounder scientific advice on which to base our policy for sustainable fisheries. It is for this reason that the Commission is committed to an effective and reliable agency.

On an operational level, we see the agency as a means of strengthening the tools and methods of control undertaken by Member States.

The Commission is very pleased with the close cooperation it has had with the rapporteur and the members of the Committee on Fisheries during our work on this important proposal. I am happy to be able to inform you that we accept more than half of the amendments of the Committee on Fisheries which greatly reinforce our proposal and which we will readily defend in the Council.

Let me now turn to the amendments proposed in the report before us.

The Commission can accept Amendment 1.

The Commission has difficulty in accepting Amendment 2. It is not advisable to prioritise tasks in the regulation since priorities may change in future years as a result of tasks fulfilled and objectives attained. The Commission does, however, note the merit in including controls of illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries in the work programme of the agency.

The Commission can accept Amendment 3.

The Commission cannot accept Amendments 4, 25 and 27. Voting arrangements must take into account the specific characteristics of this body, which is charged with control tasks. The proposal is based on the need to strike a balance between the part played by the Member States and the necessity at Commission level to ensure that the agency develops in conformity with the stated objectives of the common fisheries policy.

The Commission has difficulty in accepting Amendment 5. It involves an increase in the scope of the agency into areas beyond its inspection and control remit. The Commission is convinced that the scope of its proposal is adequate as it stands and should remain focused on its core tasks – that is, those of control and inspection. Research activities directly related to control can, of course, be considered.

The Commission can accept Amendment 6.

As far as Amendment 7 is concerned, the Commission has difficulty in accepting the substance of this amendment as currently worded. It is too restrictive in that not all fisheries agreements currently include an enforcement arrangement.

Although the Commission cannot accept Amendment 8, the scope of the agency can, of course, include the control of vessels involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as long as it is within the framework of schemes adopted by regional fisheries organisations.

The Commission can accept Amendments 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.

However, the Commission has a difficulty with Amendment 14 concerning the provision of information on the applicability and cost-effectiveness of the rules of the common fisheries policy with regard to control and inspection, since it would substantially modify the mission and tasks of the agency.

The Commission cannot accept Amendment 15 since Article 7 refers only to the obligations of Member States. It should be noted, however, that the Commission has a right to request that the agency provide services relating to the obligations of the Community under Article 5 of the proposal.

I can certainly agree to the important role that the agency will play in training; however, I have difficulty in accepting Amendment 16 since the agency should not be obliged to create a training centre. Member States may, for practical and operational reasons, prefer to have training courses and seminars provided locally. The remit of the agency should not lead to a curtailment of this eventuality.

The Commission can accept Amendment 17.

As for Amendment 18, the Commission has difficulty in accepting the substance of the amendment as currently worded. The suggested role of the Advisory Committee for Fisheries and Aquaculture (ACFA) cannot be accepted, as it would put this body, which is of an advisory character only, in a position that is similar to those of the Community institutions such as the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council. Therefore, as much as the Commission welcomes those proposals by which Parliament can be better informed about the works of the agency, it is not in favour of giving the same standing to advisory bodies such as ACFA and the RACs. For the same reason the Commission cannot accept Amendments 22, 42 and 43.

While the Commission cannot accept Amendment 19, it accepts that there is a need to amend the text of the second recital so that it refers to activities both within Community waters and outside Community waters.

The Commission has no comment to make on Amendment 20 as the location of the agency falls within the competence of the Spanish authorities.

The Commission cannot accept Amendment 21.

The Commission has difficulty with Amendments 23 and 24. Firstly, ACFA is an advisory body and should not be involved in management. Secondly, concerning the appointment of the fishing industry representatives, the Commission proposal follows the pattern of other agencies wherever stakeholder representatives are present in administrative boards. In such cases it is usually the Commission that nominates the representatives of the sector.

The Commission has difficulty in accepting Amendment 26 as the administrative board must be able to examine specific items on its agenda without the presence of industry representatives where there is an issue of confidentiality or conflict of interest.

The Commission can accept Amendments 28, 29, 30 and 31.

The Commission has difficulty with Amendment 32. The Commission believes that it is in the Community interest that it retains the power to propose the dismissal of the executive director and that this should be on the basis of a simple majority; otherwise, the position of the Commission is weakened.

The Commission cannot accept Amendment 33 as it is felt that three years is too short a period within which to have an external evaluation.

The Commission has difficulty in accepting Amendment 34 as the text of the Commission proposal is consistent with standard agreed drafting rules whereas the amendment is not.

While the Commission understands the principle of Amendment 35, it cannot accept it since it would be contentious and difficult to implement in practice.

The Commission cannot accept Amendments 36, 38, 39, 40 and 41. They have the effect of weakening the proposal. As I said at the outset, we must succeed in establishing a fisheries control agency that is effective and that can function well. In any case, I understand that the Committee on Fisheries voted against similar amendments at its meeting of 2 February.

The Commission cannot accept Amendment 37 – as I have stated previously, RACs have an advisory role and should not be involved in management.

 
  
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  Attwooll (ALDE), rapporteur. Mr President, Commissioner, the Committee on Fisheries warmly welcomes the proposal to establish a Community Fisheries Control Agency. We believe that it can make a major contribution to the uniform and cost-effective implementation of control and inspection programmes. In the view of the committee, the Agency should also play a significant role in the fight against illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, including in appropriate circumstances its occurrence outside Community waters.

Other amendments seek to establish that the Agency can provide appropriate information and assistance to the Commission and to Member States, for example in relation to health and safety at work, the development of technical inspection solutions and the cost-effectiveness of the common fisheries policy rules on control and inspection. The committee also, as the Commissioner has mentioned, calls for the Agency to be able to establish a training centre for inspectors, rather than just develop a core curriculum.

Where the report differs significantly from the Commission proposal is in the belief that the fishing industry, not the Commission, should nominate its own representatives to the administrative board and that these representatives should have the right to vote.

I turn now to the amendments tabled by the ALDE Group. Two concern the role of regional advisory councils. We believe that there is merit in their being consulted in the course of drafting joint deployment plans, and certainly that they should be informed of the Agency's assessment of the effectiveness of such plans. The remaining amendments centre on joint deployment plans. This, Commissioner, is not an attempt to weaken the proposal.

There appear to be differing interpretations of what is meant by operational coordination. On one interpretation the Agency will be concerned only with providing for the practical deployment of resources which have already been committed by Member States and ensuring that these resources are actually deployed in the manner determined by the plan. This seems to be the model envisaged by the Commission in the flow chart that it provided.

Unfortunately, this model is not adequately reflected in the current wording of Article 12, nor does it square with Article 11(1)(b) of the proposal which, and I quote: 'gives the Agency power to identify the means of control and inspection to be pooled according to the criteria in Article 11(2)'. Similarly, Article 13 specifies that Member States, and I quote again: 'shall commit and make available those means of control and inspection that are identified in the joint deployment plan'.

This is a much more extensive interpretation of the tasks involved in operational coordination and from reading the Commission's flow chart, although not the legal text, it appears to result in considerable control over the actual commitment of resources being placed in the hands of the Agency's executive director alone. The ALDE Group amendments are designed to reconcile these differing interpretations and to ensure that the rules and the practice march hand in hand.

I hope very much that Parliament will accept the amendments but whether it does or not I believe that the Commission and the Council will themselves have to find a means of resolving these issues. I wish to reassure my colleagues again that I am not engaged in any kind of subversive activity. Indeed, I actually favour the more extensive interpretation of operational coordination, subject to the appropriate safeguards.

My fundamental concern is that bad law will not make for a good Agency. For this reason, I shall be recommending to my own Group that we abstain on the report unless Amendments 38 and 39 at least are passed, although we shall of course support the legislative resolution.

 
  
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  Maat (PPE-DE), on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. (NL) Mr President, I thank you, and also the rapporteur for her efforts. It may be symbolic that after the ‘yes’ for the Constitution in Spain, the Fisheries Control Agency will be based in Vigo, which appears to me to be a just reward, given also the major political efforts made by our fellow MEPs to achieve this positive outcome with regard to the Constitution.

At the same time, I am somewhat disappointed with the response from the Commissioner, who claimed that many of the amendments that the Committee on Fisheries had approved were either unacceptable or impractical. I do think that the Commissioner lacks a certain degree of ambition in those areas. If I apply this to the Constitution, if this report were to be discussed in five years’ time, it would not be so easy for the Commission to get away with saying that this is unacceptable or impractical. In that respect, it would be good if the Commissioner were to display a little more ambition, also with regard to the implementation of the amendments, including those tabled by my group.

One of my group’s key concerns is that we have noticed that in the whole of fisheries policy, there is a growing lack of trust between the fisheries sector and Brussels. This gap must be closed, and the sector’s own commitment and contribution, as well as those of the fisheries organisations in the board of this Fisheries Control Agency, could very well help close that gap between the European Union and the fisheries sector.

There are, outside the European Union, fine examples of how things do work well. Just look at Iceland or Norway, where the fisheries sector has more influence on policy and is more involved in it being adopted and controlled effectively. In that respect, the Commission could display slightly more ambition and show more understanding, including for the PPE-DE Group’s commitment to closing that gap.

Once again, I would urge the Commissioner to act as if the new Constitution were already in place and also to take Parliament’s commitment more seriously. Then I am convinced that the new Commissioner and the new Agency will as yet find their feet.

 
  
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  Kindermann (PSE), on behalf of the PSE Group. – (DE) Mr President, control is already an important component of the common fisheries policy, and it will become even more so in the future. It has been and remains a priority aim of this House to make controls more effective in the fisheries sector. For this reason, we support the proposal for the establishment of a European Fisheries Control Agency.

There are, however, wide disparities between the various fishing regions in the European Union. We therefore believe it would be wise to ensure that the organisational structure of the agency takes account of regional differences. The common fisheries policy has undergone further development over the past few years, but the international obligations of the European Union with regard to fisheries remain a major element of the CFP. All of this requires not only effective but also uniform control procedures or coordination of control activities, as appropriate. The establishment of a European control agency should guarantee this. The aim must be the improvement of national control structures, with the Member States continuing to determine how they use their own control instruments. We assume that the establishment of organisational structures at the Community level could result in more consistent compliance with existing statutory provisions.

In our view, some of the rapporteur’s amendments do not contribute to the pursuit of these aims and are too broad in their scope. The competence of the agency must remain clearly visible. For this reason we are opposed to the inclusion of regional advisory councils in the organisational structure. Although the rapporteur has done a very good job, we are unable to support amendments that would take us down that road.

 
  
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  Booth (IND/DEM), on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. Mr President, around the world, fish conservation is only effective when it is under national control. I have spoken to dozens of fishermen in Devon and Cornwall who know precisely how to conserve fish stocks, but nobody ever asks for their advice. I suggest that the current common fisheries policy, with its totally unworkable quota system designed by office-bound bureaucrats, should be scrapped immediately and replaced by a new fisheries policy designed by the fishermen themselves.

The problem for Britain has been the strict enforcement of the CFP to the nth degree, first of all by MAFF and then by Defra. One example was their insistence that a fisherman called Ken Bagley – whom I happen to know very well – should rub his thumb on the underbellies of five tonnes of sprats to ensure that there were no immature herrings in the catch. In the UK we say 'it takes a sprat to catch a mackerel'. Perhaps we should be saying 'it takes a sprat to catch a herring'! Little wonder that Britain's GDP for fishing has gone down from GBP 561 million in 1964 to GBP 520 million in 2003, despite inflation. In Norway, which controls its own fisheries policy, the figures have increased from NOK 7.5 billion to NOK 10.1 billion over the same period.

The environmental crisis in the North Sea is man-made. It is a classic stratagem of the European Commission to exploit such a crisis in the cause of closer European integration. This is known as a beneficial crisis. Europe's solution to something which is not working is to put even more Europe into it, thus a new fisheries agency is created, based in Vigo, Spain. Surprise, surprise! In future, British fishing boats will be policed in our own territorial waters by patrol boats operating under the control of this new agency and sent out on the authority of the EU's inspectorate based in Madrid. Poor old Francis Drake must be turning in his grave. Perhaps we should get ready to light the beacons!

(Applause)

 
  
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  Allister (NI). Mr President, to believe in a Community fisheries control agency, one has to believe in the common fisheries policy. Northern Ireland's experiences of it have been dire. Courtesy of the CFP, we have seen our fishing fleet drastically reduced by over-regulation and punitive closures. I cannot support the common fisheries policy, and therefore I will not support a Community control agency. In my view, fishing is properly a matter for national control, not EU control. Therefore all inspection mechanisms should be initiated and operated nationally. This agency, alas, is but another part of the empire-building that Brussels so readily takes upon itself.

Faced with the probable reality of the Community fisheries control agency, I will use my vote in this House, as I did in committee, to seek to restrict its ambit and enhance national input.

 
  
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  Fraga Estévez (PPE-DE). (ES) Commissioner, I, on the other hand, do support and applaud the creation of the Fisheries Control Agency and I would therefore simply ask that it become operational as soon as possible.

Furthermore, the amendments introduced by the Committee on Fisheries considerably improve and supplement both the Commission’s initial proposal and the rapporteur’s report in terms of the genuine responsibilities the Agency should have and without prejudice to the competences that currently fall to the Member States.

This report confirms my conviction that it is not possible to have sustainable resources and restructure fishing practices unless the control policy is dealt with in an honest and unhypocritical way and, unfortunately, this proposal has once again highlighted that some of the countries that talk most about control are then the most reticent, rejecting serious and effective proposals.

This Agency is a step in the right direction in terms of increasing the prominence of those attitudes and, although there is still much to be done, in particular, in relation to the transparency of the criteria for inspections by Member States and European harmonisation on legislation and penalties, having it will be the best guarantee that this can be resolved in the near future.

The Committee on Fisheries has also improved the way the proposal treated the sector and in that regard, Commissioner, I do not agree that the Commission should not accept the proposals, because the sector is given a genuine voice and representation in an area that affects it so much and in which it would be crazy not to have its support, and the responsibilities of the Agency have been increased in order to try to make the Commission take its responsibilities seriously in relation to non-declared and non-regulated illegal fishing once and for all.

I would also like to acknowledge the efforts the rapporteur has made in order to seek areas of compromise, and I would like to end by expressing my pleasure at the fact that this Agency is going to be based in Spain, in the city of Vigo, a city which is so significant in terms of world fishing.

 
  
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  Miguélez Ramos (PSE). (ES) Mr President, I hope that the amendment establishing the Agency in Vigo is one of the long list of amendments the Commissioner has mentioned, since I was one of the people who proposed that city for its headquarters.

Commissioner, I believe that the role of the Committee on Fisheries has been very evident during the work on this report, both that of the rapporteur, Mrs Attwooll, who has worked extremely hard and who I believe has done laudable work and, from what I know is an entirely Europeanist point of view, that of those of us who have tried to amend her report in the best possible spirit from two points of view.

On the one hand, our committee has worked quickly so that the Agency can be set up and become operational as soon as possible and, furthermore, it has tried to improve the text of the Commission’s proposal, because it is true that we have always believed that the initial proposal, which was not yours but which was from the European Commission, was too modest, and our amendments have sought to resolve that.

It is true that this Agency is the first to be created with exclusively fisheries responsibilities and we have therefore looked at other agencies which perhaps were also set up with rather modest roles but which nevertheless were soon required to play increasingly significant roles. I am thinking, for example, of the European Maritime Safety Agency.

Extending its responsibilities, Commissioner, and please do not forget this, would help to endear it to the fisheries sector. Because it is true that the proposal to create it stems from the debates on the reform of the common fisheries policy as a method for improving coordination between Member States on certain very specific monitoring and control aspects, but it remains the case that our intention is to extend those competences so that, furthermore, the Member States and the Commission can receive technical and scientific assistance to help them in the correct application of the common fisheries policy rules.

 
  
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  Stevenson (PPE-DE). Mr President, I am sure that by now Commissioner Borg will have come to recognise the uncertain pleasure of addressing an empty House on the subject of fisheries late on a Tuesday evening, but at least he has the privilege of talking for more than two minutes. It was also refreshing to hear Commissioner Borg say that he could accept almost half of the committee's amendments. That must be without precedent in the last decade of statements from fisheries Commissioners.

My party, the UK Conservative Party, has a manifesto commitment to withdrawing Britain from the CFP and restoring fisheries management to national and local control. Nevertheless, I recognise that even in circumstances in which Britain is no longer a participating member of the CFP, we will still have many vessels fishing outwith the UK 200-mile limit and in EU and international waters. In these circumstances, and accepting that this proposal is a fait accompli, it is therefore important that we support a workable proposal for the creation of an EU fisheries control agency. I would like to congratulate Mrs Attwooll on the great work she has done on this report.

There is no doubt that the different approach to fisheries control in different Member States has caused widespread ill-feeling in the past. I have often heard fishermen in Scotland saying that fishermen in Spain get off far too lightly. Then you go to Spain and hear fishermen there saying that fishermen in Scotland get off too lightly, so we clearly need a level playing field.

There is also a need for the even-handed application of the rules. The Commission's proposals seek to achieve that objective. I believe, however, that we should try not to gild the lily by embellishing the Commission's plans with amendments which vest even more power in the new agency. On that basis, I am alarmed that the Commission has rejected the consultation of regional advisory councils, which form a very important pillar in CFP reform and give meaningful stakeholder involvement to fishermen, scientists and others involved in the industry. I hope the Commission will reconsider that.

 
  
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  Casaca (PSE).(PT) Mr President, Commissioner, I should like to join in the words of congratulation for Mrs Attwooll on her excellent report. As Mr Kindermann has said, we do have our differences of opinion, but the quality of this report should certainly be highlighted.

I should like to start by pointing out that there are now electronic devices that make it possible effectively to control the entire Community fleet and to provide rapid access to scientific data that is extremely important to sustainable fishing. It is for this very reason that I find it utterly incomprehensible that although we have an exclusive power that the Committee on Fisheries rightly called anomalous and unjustified, there is a failure by the Community to exercise any concrete power, particularly in areas where it is most needed and it would be most effective, which is in this field of remote control.

In connection with this, I should like to raise the following points. Firstly, it is obviously to be welcomed, as has been said by many of the Members of this House, but welcomed from an operational point of view; in other words, it should become an operational instrument and not merely a paper factory and a way of keeping the bureaucratic world ticking over, resolving nothing and doing nothing. My second major concern is that this agency should not mean that Community policies are at the mercy of power play and vested interests, because the outright losers in such situations tend to be the smallest regions, along with sustainable fishing itself.

 
  
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  Varela Suanzes-Carpegna (PPE-DE). (ES) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, it was the European Council of December 2003 that, on the proposal of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, took the initiative to create a European Fisheries Agency. It was a good idea.

The European Commission presented a proposal which clearly needed improving. Our committee produced a draft report which also clearly needed improving. We can therefore say that the draft now being presented to Parliament is considerably better than the initial drafts.

Of the substantial improvements, I would emphasise the inclusion of the sector with full rights of participation, the extension of the competences to IUU fishing and the inclusion of training responsibilities.

Nevertheless, I regret that the competences only include researching and developing technical solutions in relation to control and inspection, and that the Socialist Group has opposed amendments aimed at giving the Agency genuine competences in the field of scientific fisheries research which could contribute to improving the reports on the basis of which the Commission produces its legislative proposals on technical measures, the conservation of resources, TACs and quotas, since that would mean that the Agency and its experts would participate more actively in the common fisheries policy, thereby giving it greater credibility in the eyes of the fisheries sector.

The Agency was strengthened as a result of the meeting of the Committee on Fisheries and I hope that it will be strengthened tomorrow in Parliament, although not in the way I would have liked. I trust that the Council can improve the situation.

 
  
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  Stihler (PSE). Mr President, I am sure we can all agree that the establishment of a Community fisheries control agency should be welcomed in principle. We hear a lot about the importance of having a level playing field for the application of rules under the common fisheries policy. The creation of the agency in Vigo has the potential to help create more uniform, more effective control and inspection procedures and so increase compliance. It might also reduce overall expenditure on control and inspection measures.

A feasibility study published after the drafting of the regulation suggested that such potential will only be fulfilled if certain organisational and operational criteria are met. This led the rapporteur, Mrs Attwooll, to propose a number of amendments clarifying the text. Many members of the Committee on Fisheries argued that the rapporteur's amendments watered down the role of the agency. I disagreed with this and supported the draft report in committee. The draft report seemed, to me, to clarify the role and responsibility of the Member States, the Commission and the agency and to improve regional involvement.

Joint deployment plans, involving a pooling by Member States of their inspection and control resources are crucial to the success of the agency's work. The amendment retabled by the rapporteur aimed to make sure that the role of the agency as a facilitator is clear.

I have consistently supported a meaningful role for regional advisory councils in fisheries management. For this reason I believe it would also be appropriate for RACs to be consulted during the drafting of joint deployment plans. That would help ensure compliance.

Information about the activities of the agency should be widely circulated and an annual assessment given to the European Parliament, the Commission, the Member States, the Advisory Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture and the regional advisory councils. I have had some differences with PSE Group colleagues in defining the role of the agency, but I can certainly join with them in welcoming its creation and looking forward to more effective compliance in our fisheries.

 
  
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  Borg, Member of the Commission. Mr President, in my concluding remarks I shall try to reply very briefly to all the speeches made.

In reply to the rapporteur, Mrs Attwooll, I repeat that, with regard to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, it is important to have these in the work programme, but the Commission does not agree that they should be indicated as a priority task since priorities can change and, therefore, it would be an unnecessary curtailment of the priorities with regard to the agency's functions.

As regards the agency having the remit to set up a training centre: again, the Commission does not believe that this function should be centralised in the hands of the agency, but that there should be flexibility and it should be retained as it is. We consider the changes to the wording – I am referring here to Amendments 36, 38, 39, 40 and 41, from 'preparing', for example, to 'drafting', working 'through its executive director' or the need for 'the endorsement of Member States' and the change from 'instructions' to 'operational guidance' – as a weakening of the text, in spite of the good intentions of Mrs Attwooll. Accepting Amendment 39, for example, would lead to an intergovernmental process.

Let me turn to the comments made by Mr Maat. The five-year period is necessary as the Commission considers that three years is too short a period in which to carry out the necessary evaluation. On the lack of trust between representatives of the fishery industry and the Commission, I would like to say here that the Fisheries Control Agency is a start. As regards the composition of the administrative board and its functions – here we are speaking of control and not simple administration – the fishing industry is a stakeholder and, therefore, giving it voting rights would make it, so to speak, judex in causa propria.

With regard to the comment made by Mr Kindermann– if I understood him correctly – that the competence of the agency must remain clear and that, therefore, RACs should not be included, the Commission agrees with this position.

As regards the comments made by Mr Booth and Mr Allister with regard to the present CFP, that it should be scrapped and that the new policy designed by fishermen, in other words, the nationalisation of the fisheries policy: my own comment is that this is a much wider debate and, therefore, goes beyond the scope of this proposal. Mr Allister again made the same comments as Mr Booth.

As regards the comments by Mrs Fraga Estévez and Mrs Miguélez Ramos that the amendments improved the thrust of the proposal: a number of them do, as I said, and in fact we were in a position to accept over half of them. As regards the others, the Commission's view is that they do not, because they tend to go beyond the scope of the proposal and of the agency, or else destroy the necessary balance of the control mechanism.

As regards the points regarding the industry, again I refer to what I have just said with regard to the comments made by Mr Maat.

Concerning Mr Stevenson, who is willing to support a workable proposal, the Commission, with the amendments accepted by it, attains exactly this. The Commission rejects obligatory consultation of RACs because the RACs have, so far at least, an advisory and not a management role.

As regards Mr Casaca's point that this has to be a real control agency and not another bureaucracy: the Commission agrees, and the proposal tries to give an effective role to the agency.

Mr Varela Suanzes-Carpegna said that a list of competences is not enough: this is noted. At this juncture I can say that not mentioning a specific technological development, for example, that could be used for control purposes does not mean that such would not be possible.

With regard to Mrs Stihler's point on the watering down or otherwise, I can only repeat what I said to Mrs Attwooll. As regards the RACs, I would not exclude voluntary consultation of RACs and redrafting the deployment plans, but I would not advise an obligatory inclusion of consultation of RACs, at least at this juncture.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Wednesday at 11.30 a.m.

 
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