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Tuesday, 17 June 2008 - Strasbourg
Policy coherence for development and the effects of the EU's exploitation of certain biological natural resources on development in West Africa

European Parliament resolution of 17 June 2008 on policy coherence for development and the effects of the EU's exploitation of certain biological natural resources on development in West Africa (2007/2183(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 178 of the Treaty establishing the European Community,

–   having regard to the 2005 Joint statement by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on European Union Development Policy: "The European Consensus"(1),

–   having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000(2), as amended by the Agreement amending the Partnership Agreement signed in Luxembourg on 25 June 2005(3),

–   having regard to the Joint EU-Africa Strategy,

–   having regard to the first biennial Commission "EU Report on Policy Coherence for Development", (COM(2007)0545), and the accompanying Commission Staff Working Paper (SEC(2007)1202),

–   having regard to the Council Conclusions of 21 and 22 December 2004, 24 May 2005, 10 March 2006, 11 April 2006, 17 October 2006, 5 December 2006, 15 December 2006, 19-20 November 2007,

–   having regard to the Commission Staff Working Paper on Policy Coherence for Development (PCD), Work Programme 2006-2007 (SEC(2006)0335),

–   having regard to the UN Millennium Declaration of 8 September 2000,

–   having regard to the Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development of 22 March 2002,

–   having regard to the evaluation study on "The EU Institutions & Member States" Mechanisms for Promoting Policy Coherence for Development" published in May 2007 by the European Centre for Development Policy Management , PARTICIP GmbH, and the Complutense Institute of International Studies ,

–   having regard to the EU Coherence Programme of the Evert Vermeer Foundation and the European NGO confederation for relief and development ),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled "Building a Global Climate Change Alliance between the European Union and poor developing countries most vulnerable to climate change" (COM(2007)0540),

–   having regard to the outcome of the 13th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP13) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol held in Bali, Indonesia from 3 to 14 December 2007,

–   having regard to its resolution of 22 May 2007 on halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010(4),

–   having regard to the Commission's proposal for an EU action plan on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) of 21 May 2003 (COM(2003)0251), which was endorsed by the conclusions of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council of 13 October 2003, and the Council Regulation (EC) No 2173/2005 of 20 December 2005 on the establishment of a FLEGT licensing scheme for imports of timber into the European Community(5),

–   having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2005 on speeding up implementation of the EU FLEGT action plan(6),

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Environment Council of 20 February 2007 on the EU objectives for the further development of the international climate regime beyond 2012, which "emphasises that concrete policies and actions are needed to halt and reverse carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation in developing countries within the next two to three decades",

–   having regard to the Communication of the Commission on an "Integrated Framework for Fisheries Partnership Agreements with Third Countries" of 23 December 2002 (COM (2002)0637),

–   having regard to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries of 1995 and the FAO International Plan of Action for the Management of Fishing Capacity 1999,

–   having regard to the 2005 FAO study by John Kurien entitled "Responsible Fish Trade and Food Security",

–   having regard to the study of 16 July 2007 carried out for the European Parliament on "Policy Coherence for Development and the Effects of EU Fisheries Policies on Development in West Africa",

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2001 on Fisheries and Poverty Reduction(7),

–   having regard to the study "L´émigration irrégulière vers l´Union européenne au départ des côtes sénégalaises" by Juliette Hallaire of September 2007, published by the International Organization for Migration,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Development and the opinion of the Committee on Fisheries (A6-0137/2008),

A.   whereas the UN Millennium Declaration calls on all States to ensure policy coherence for development,

B.   whereas the EU is strongly committed to ensuring PCD in accordance with Article 178 of the EC Treaty, which stipulates that the Community shall take account of the objectives of Community policy in the sphere of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries,

C.   whereas paragraph 35 of the above-mentioned European Consensus on Development stipulates that "the EU is fully committed to taking action to advance Policy Coherence for Development in a number of areas", and that "it is important that non-development policies assist developing countries" efforts in achieving the MDGs",

D.   whereas the above-mentioned biennial report of the Commission on PCD finds, among other things, that:

   - the concept of PCD has not yet been sufficiently mainstreamed into decision-making processes,
   - the EU is - despite its efforts - still at an early stage of the development of an effective PCD concept,
   - the main obstacle to enhanced policy coherence are political priorities and conflicts of interest among Member States and between developing countries,
   - there is still a lack of awareness and knowledge about PCD and the need to ensure continuous high-level political engagement,
   - given that fisheries are an important economic sector in coastal countries, they can play an important role in ensuring food security,

E.   whereas the conclusions of the Council of 24 May 2005 contain the commitment to enhance the EU's PCD, in particular in twelve priority policy areas, including trade, fisheries, environment, climate change, migration and employment,

F.   whereas the two most important biological natural resources exploited by the EU in West Africa are fish and timber as, according to the Commission's Directorate General for Trade, more than 80% of the fish and timber exported by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) goes to the EU,

G.  Whereas the UN defines West Africa as the westernmost region of Africa comprising the following 16 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cap Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo (that is to say, ECOWAS plus Mauritania),(8) and whereas, moreover, Cameroon is often seen as being part of West Africa,

Policy Coherence for Development (PCD)

1.  Welcomes the increased attention and commitment to PCD by the Commission, the Council and the Member States, as demonstrated by the 12 PCD commitments, the biennial reporting and several other new mechanisms;

2.  Stresses the importance of policy coherence as one of the EU's contributions to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals;

3.  Underlines the fact that political will and commitment to take developing countries" interests into consideration in all the policy fields that affect them is crucial for achieving better policy coherence;

4.  Draws attention to the strong inter-linkages between the EU's development and fisheries policies and development and timber trading policies, and stresses that measures taken in the policy areas of EU fisheries and timber have a strong impact on local sustainable development;

5.  Recalls that the above-mentioned COP13 acknowledged the significant contribution of deforestation to greenhouse gas emissions and thus to climate change, and emphasised the need to support developing countries in their efforts towards the preservation and sustainable management of their forests; urges the EU and the Member States to make substantial financial contributions to international initiatives for the preservation, sustainable use and management of forests in developing countries and in particular for support to African countries;


6.  Is concerned that tropical deforestation is one of the drivers of climate change, responsible for about 20% of the total human-caused greenhouse gas emissions each year, and destroying the livelihoods of millions of local and indigenous communities;

7.  Is concerned that cheap imports of illegal timber and forestry products, together with non-compliance by some industry players with basic social and environmental standards, destabilises international markets and reduces the tax revenues of producer countries;

8.  Is concerned that, according to FAO data, less than 7% of the global forest area is eco-labelled and less than 5% of tropical forests are managed in a sustainable way;

9.  Welcomes the fact that in West Africa, the Commission is engaged in official negotiations with Ghana and Cameroon and in preliminary discussions with Liberia, with a view to signing Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPA) to control the legality of timber products exported directly to the European Union;

10.  Emphasises that all forest preservation schemes, including the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) and FLEGT, need to safeguard the traditional and customary rights of indigenous and local communities to the use of their forests in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People;

11.  Calls on the Commission to respond favourably to requests to finance sustainable forest management initiatives within the framework of aid programming and Country Strategy Papers;

12.  Calls on the Commission to present a communication determining the EU's approach, involvement and support for current and future funding mechanisms for promoting forest protection and reducing emissions from deforestation, including under the UNFCCC/Kyoto Protocol and the FCPF; this communication should outline the EU's commitment to provide funds to help developing countries to protect their forests, to finance forest protected areas and to promote economic alternatives to forest destruction;

13.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to speed up the implementation of the above-mentioned EU FLEGT action plan and regulation aimed at combating illegal logging and related trade and enhancing the consumption of wood products produced in a sustainable way and to increase significantly the number of partner countries;

14.  In particular, calls on the Commission to propose within this legislative period a comprehensive legislative proposal preventing the placing on the market of timber and timber products derived from illegal and destructive sources;

15.  Urges the Member States and the Commission to speed up the adoption and implementation of a green public procurement policy at EU, national and local level, which favours the purchase of eco-labelled wood products, especially those certified according to the standard of the Forest Stewardship Council;


16.  Stresses the high level of dependence of countries in West Africa on fisheries as a source of employment, food security, proteins, government revenues and foreign exchange, as illustrated by a current case study published by the International Organization for Migration suggesting that one of the most important causes of migration from Senegal is the decline of local fisheries industries;

17.  Notes with satisfaction, and encourages, the progress made in this field, but continues to express its concern at the slowness and reluctance with which some countries in the region are becoming involved in the protection of their own resources; regrets that, despite the efforts made by the EU within the framework of the partnership agreements, the sustainability of natural biological resources, including fishery resources, and the benefits of sustainable exploitation still do not represent a priority for these countries but often remain subordinate to other political and economic interests;

18.  Urges the Commission therefore to look into the matter and the clear link between migration levels of immigrants from West African countries to the EU and the heavy decline of fish stocks off the West African coast;

19.  Calls on the Commission and the governments of the West African countries to curb illegal fishing, and to monitor and control fish stocks in order to put an end to the heavy decline in fish stocks in the West African seas;

20.  Considers that fisheries resources in West Africa represent a significant potential for local development and contribution to food security; notes with concern that according to the most recent scientific assessments by the Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic from 2006, many stocks in West Africa are over-exploited and at least one is at risk of extinction;

21.  Considers that an evaluation of the extent of coherence between the Community's development policy and its fisheries policy involves many aspects beyond the bilateral fisheries partnership agreements signed with several third countries in West Africa; equally important are Community policies with respect to:

   - the monitoring, control and surveillance of the waters off West Africa and EU contributions to the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing;
   - support for scientific research into fish stocks and the structure of the ecosystem;
   - the export and re-flagging of EU vessels to West Africa;
   - phyto-sanitary standards for the importation of fish and other non-tariff barriers to trade;
   - EU market policy and the type and quantity of fish imported from West Africa;

22.  Asks the Commission, in the light of the not yet fully agreed and signed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the West African countries, to proceed in line with the PCD agenda when negotiating agreements for timber and fish as part of the EPA process;

23.  Exhorts the Commission once again to act on the ultimate objective of the EPAs, which is advancing regional integration and strengthening the economic position of the ACP countries, and in this context stresses in particular the position of the West African countries;

24.  Considers that the EU's fisheries policy, including in its relations with West Africa, must respect the above-mentioned FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries of 1995;

25.  Expresses satisfaction that seven countries of West Africa have signed fisheries agreements with the EU under the new formula of partnership agreements in which, in addition to the initial objective of protecting the interests of the EU fleet, clauses are included by means of which the third country must establish plans that will guarantee the sustainable exploitation of its fishery resources;

26.  Considers that the past influx of fishing capacity into a region that has comparatively weak systems of fisheries management and insufficient means to survey and control the activities of fishing vessels has contributed to the problematic status of fishery resources in the region; and thus welcomes the termination in 2005 of subsidies for the transfer of fishing capacities from the EU to West Africa;

27.  Notes that when the EU reduces its activities in West African waters, their place may be taken by fleets from other countries, which may not respect the same principles of sustainability;

28.  Believes that, as regards fishery resources in particular, the following aspects need to be strengthened as a priority:

   regular assessment of fishery resources through research campaigns carried out using oceanographic vessels with EU researchers and researchers from the third country concerned, covering the fishery resources available in each of the exclusive economic zones of countries with which fisheries partnership agreements have been signed;
   improved infrastructure on land, both port infrastructure and infrastructure for supplies and transport, in order to facilitate the entry of vessels from the EU and from other countries for repair, disembarkation, transhipment, etc, which will offer additional benefits for third countries;
   adaptation of hygiene and health rules, since most of these countries have serious shortcomings in this area which in some cases prevent them from benefiting from the preferential access to the EU market that their exports could enjoy;
   monitoring and surveillance services, since these countries lack the necessary technical and human resources to carry out these tasks, by setting up monitoring centres, training inspectors or acquiring patrol vessels and airborne resources;
   creation of a legal framework that will guarantee protection for current and potential EU investment stemming chiefly from the creation of joint ventures, which currently encounter too many obstacles to investment in the third country concerned, mainly owing to the loss of control over the business and legal uncertainty in almost all countries in the region;
   introduction of sustainable fisheries management plans that will regulate the activities of local sectors, restricting the widespread and biologically unsustainable practice of free access;

29.  Calls on the EU to decouple the level of payment for agreements from the level of fishing opportunities that are granted in return, which can act as a disincentive for the third country to reduce access when stocks are depleted or lead to sudden and significant reductions in income for the third-country government;

30.  Calls on the EU to conduct the following actions in order to render fishing activities in West Africa sustainable and coherent with the Community development policy, whether under the terms of a partnership agreement or by private agreement:

   - carry out a reliable assessment of the abundance of relevant fish stocks prior to the commencement of fishing operations and at regular intervals thereafter;
   - if African fish stocks are depleted, the EU and other foreign vessels need to take the first steps to reduce the amount of fish caught;
   - create long-term programmes to conduct scientific assessments of the status and trends in abundance of fish stocks and their ecological relationships, as well as the impact of fishing on them; and support West African research capacities,
   - provide accurate, reliable and timely public reporting on catches and activities of EU vessels operating in third countries;
   - provide aid for the development of reference laboratories to enable them to more easily fulfil the phyto-sanitary requirements for export to the EU;
   - establish, together with the EU's West African partners, a programme to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, including a regional surveillance plan along the lines of the agreement concluded with the Indian Ocean Commission; and support West African capacities for effective control and surveillance of fishing activities by both domestic and foreign vessels;
   - consult local communities about the terms of the agreements;
   - take measures to ascertain that local fishermen and fleets have priority access to fish stocks;
   - set up long-term programmes that increase added value for the local processing industries by allowing for locally caught fish to be processed locally and subsequently exported to the EU;
   - reform and adjust the current system of rules of origin so as to reflect local circumstances and realities;

31.  Recognises that, even though the financial contributions under the fisheries agreements have come to represent a substantial share of the total budgets of some third countries, to which must be added the investment made by shipowners and the cooperation, including financial cooperation, provided by the Member States on a bilateral basis, cooperation for sustainable development cannot come from the common fisheries policy alone and the remaining Community policies also need to be brought into play, particularly development cooperation policy, in order to bring about political and socio-economic conditions that will enable those countries to redirect administrative and financial efforts so that they can fully and sustainably benefit from the potential offered by their natural biological resources;

32.  Urges better coordination between the Commission and the Member States in their development cooperation projects, including when setting priorities and objectives;

33.  Deplores the fact that the Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) of the EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements of May 2007 commissioned by the Commission fails to investigate the forestry sectors and only touches on fisheries questions;

34.  Requests the Commission to:

   - generally conduct more and more detailed SIAs;
   - mainstream PCD questions more thoroughly into the SIAs;
   - commission two SIAs for the EPA in West Africa with a special focus on PCD in the fish and timber sectors, including an assessment of the impact on local and indigenous communities;

35.  Concludes that the FLEGT process and the reformed Fisheries Partnership Agreements of the new generation since 2003 represent important starting points for development-friendly policies; emphasises, however, that the fishing and timber policies of the EU towards West Africa need to be broadened and enhanced in order to enable true PCD;

o   o

36.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the the Council, Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretariats of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, ECOWAS, the African Union, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission and the Fisheries Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic, the governments of all ECOWAS countries, as well as Mauritania and Cameroon.

(1) OJ C 46, 24.2.2006, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 317, 15.12.2000, p. 3. Agreement as last amended by Decision No 1/2006 of the ACP-EC Council of Ministers (OJ L 247, 9.9.2006, p. 22).
(3) OJ L 209, 11.8.2005, p. 27.
(4) OJ C 102 E, 24.4.2008, p. 117.
(5) OJ L 347, 30.12.2005, p. 1.
(6) OJ C 157 E, 6.7.2006, p. 482.
(7) OJ C 112 E, 9.5.2002, p. 353.
(8) The UN region also includes the island of Saint Helena, a British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean which is not covered in this resolution.

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