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Verbatim report of proceedings
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition

4. Decision on urgent procedure
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Draft Council decision on the approval, on behalf of the European Union, of the Declaration on the granting of fishing opportunities in EU waters to fishing vessels flying the flag of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the exclusive economic zone off the coast of French Guiana (C7-0121/2011 - 08202/2011- 2010/0392 (NLE))


  Crescenzio Rivellini, rapporteur.(IT) Mr President, the Council has again made a request for urgent procedure on this file, for which I have been appointed rapporteur, asking Parliament to deliver its opinion during the Committee on Fisheries meeting of December 2011. As rapporteur, and on behalf of the Committee on Fisheries, I oppose the Council’s request for urgent procedure, as happened previously for the same request on 15 November 2011. I also think there is a need to summarise the problem again briefly.

The Council’s proposal concerns access by fishing vessels flying the flag of Venezuela to the exclusive economic zone off the coast of the French department of Guiana. As the title suggests, the proposal is similar to an international agreement in respect of which, under the Treaty of Lisbon, Parliament has the right to act as colegislator in the ordinary legislative procedure.

The draft does not present any problems are far as the substance is concerned. There is every reason to approve this draft, which, although signed unilaterally by the Council, will, under international law, impose obligations on the parties involved that are similar to those imposed under an ordinary fisheries agreement.

The main issue, however, lies elsewhere. The Commission forwarded the proposal to Parliament with a particular legal basis: Articles 43(2) and 218(6)(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Parliament fully accepted the proposal in view of its content and spirit, recognising as it did Parliament’s power of consent. When the Council later referred the matter to Parliament, however, it had unilaterally changed the legal basis, setting aside Articles 43(2) and 218(6)(a) and opting for Articles 43(3) and 218(6)(b) instead, meaning that Parliament could merely deliver an opinion.

I recall that at that point, the coordinators of our committee rejected the change made by the Council and, before adopting any definitive position, referred the file to Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs. The latter committee confirmed the validity of the legal basis initially used by the Commission and made a point of warning the Committee on Fisheries about the dangerous precedent that the combination of Articles 43(3) and 218(6)(b) of the Treaty could set.

As the Council is keen to obtain just Parliament’s opinion and not its consent as soon as possible, the Chair of the Committee on Fisheries, Ms Fraga Estévez, wrote to President Buzek on 5 October 2011 informing him of the stances of the Committee on Fisheries and the Committee on Legal Affairs, suggesting that, in order to avoid any controversy, he invite the Council to refer the matter to Parliament again, this time in a draft containing the original legal basis, thereby reinstating Parliament in its rightful place as colegislator.

President Buzek wrote to the Council on 26 October 2011 to that effect. In its reply, the Council merely – I repeat, merely – writes as follows: the Council’s decision to change the legal basis initially used by the Commission was not taken lightly but resulted from careful consideration.

We do not find this reply at all satisfactory. When the Committee on Fisheries meets on 20 December, therefore, Parliament has a duty to vote for the draft report that restores the appropriate legal basis. It is vital that Parliament rejects this proposal.


(Parliament rejected the request for urgent procedure)(1)


(1)For further details: see Minutes

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