Common Market Organisation in fishery and aquaculture products

The Common Market Organisation (CMO) in fishery and aquaculture products was the first component of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Overall, the current CMO aims at protecting producers and ensuring the environmental sustainability and economic viability of the market in fishery and aquaculture products. It improves and strengthens key elements of the CMO such as common market standards, consumer information and producer organisations, and introduces new elements, such as market intelligence.

Legal basis

Articles 42 and 43(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

Background

The Common Market Organisation (CMO) is the Union’s policy for managing the market in fishery and aquaculture products, while ensuring their environmental sustainability and economic viability, and is one of the pillars of the CFP (3.3.1). Implemented as early as 1970[1], it was the first separate regulation on fisheries matters, however still under the legal framework for the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) (3.2.1). Hence, the CMO for fishery and aquaculture products is based on the objectives and principles laid down for the agriculture sector and its products. According to the definition of Article 38(1) of the TFEU, ‘agricultural products’ include ‘the products of the soil, of stockfarming and of fisheries and products of first-stage processing directly related to these products’. In the meantime the CMO has undergone major revisions, in 1981[2] and 1999[3]. In 2013, the CMO was reformed once more as part of the last CFP reform package, taking account of certain shortcomings of the previous frameworks and of the evolution of fishing and aquaculture activities. It entered into force on 1 January 2014. The current regulation - Regulation (EU) No 1379/2013 on the CMO in fishery and aquaculture products[4] - is taking on a more integrating role through linking market considerations with management strategies. Moreover, the current fishery and aquaculture CMO sets the legal framework for producer organisations (POs), marketing standards, consumer information and certification (ecolabels), competition rules and market intelligence (such as that provided by the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (EUMOFA)).

Objectives

The current CMO in fishery and aquaculture products aims at protecting the producers, focusing primarily on primary producers (fishing and aquaculture companies) and linking market considerations with resource management issues. The main objectives of the CMO are:

  • To contribute to the sustainable exploitation of living marine biological resources;
  • To enable the fishery and aquaculture industry to apply the CFP at the appropriate level;
  • To strengthen the competitiveness of the Union’s fishery and aquaculture industry, in particular that of producers;
  • To improve the transparency and stability of the markets;
  • To ensure that the distribution of added value along the sector’s supply chain is more balanced;
  • To improve consumer information and raise awareness, by means of notification and labelling providing comprehensible information;
  • To contribute to ensuring a level playing field for all products marketed in the Union by promoting sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources;
  • To contribute to ensuring that consumers have a diverse supply of fishery and aquaculture products;
  • To provide the consumer with verifiable and accurate information regarding the origin of the product and its mode of production, in particular through marking and labelling.

Achievements

Some of the main achievements of the CMO in fishery and aquaculture are the following :

A. Common marketing standards

Common marketing standards are common characteristics, related to quality, size, weight, packing, presentation and labelling of fishery and aquaculture products for human consumption, regardless of their origin. They help to keep high-quality products in the internal market, facilitating commerce based on fair competition practices and thus helping to improve production profitability. Since the 2013 reform of the CMO, common market standards should also enable the supply of sustainable products to the market. These standards should be set in accordance with stock conservation measures, e.g. minimum marketing sizes for marketed species must reflect the best available scientific advice or correspond to minimum conservation reference sizes (3.3.2). In 2019, the Commission presented its evaluation of the performance of the market standard framework for fishery and aquaculture products.

B. Consumer information

Consumer information, both mandatory and voluntary information, aims at providing consumers with comprehensive and clear information in order to promote responsible consumption. The new CMO Regulation extends the content and scope of the mandatory information for the labelling of fishery and aquaculture products for human consumption. Furthermore, the use of eco-labels, as constituting voluntary information, should be evaluated in order to provide better information on environmental sustainability. In May 2016 and on the basis of Article 36 of the CMO Regulation, after public consultation, the Commission published a feasibility report on options for an EU-wide eco-label scheme for fishery and aquaculture products.

C. Producer organisations and production and marketing plans

The new CMO Regulation enhances the responsibilities of fishery and aquaculture producer organisations (POs) as regards achieving the objectives of the CFP and CMO. All POs have to prepare and submit a production and marketing plan (PMP) to the public authorities to ensure the environmental sustainability of their fishery and aquaculture activities. Thus, PMPs constitute an essential and mandatory tool of the new CMO. To facilitate the development and homogeneous implementation of the PMPs by all POs, the Commission adopted Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1418/2013[5] and submitted Recommendation 2014/117/EU[6]. The preparation and implementation of PMPs can be co-financed through the EMFF (3.3.4).

D. Market intelligence

The Commission has developed the European Market Observatory for fishery and aquaculture products (EUMOFA). It is a market intelligence tool, aiming at a more transparent and efficient fishery and aquaculture market. It facilitates access to data on fishery and aquaculture products, presents market analyses, and supports policymaking. The EUMOFA database provides data on fishery and aquaculture products along the supply chain, from first sale to consumption on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Furthermore, it provides structural information and analyses relating to the EU fisheries and aquaculture industry, at both EU and Member State level, as well as studies.

E. End of the withdrawal scheme

The price withdrawal scheme was a market intervention measure, which ended with the implementation of the new CMO Regulation. The ‘withdrawal price’ was set as a fixed minimum level. No fish could be sold under this price. This intervention tool enabled POs, within certain limits of market fluctuations, to take fish off the market. Therefore, the scrapping of this scheme has encouraged producers to anticipate market demand in their production planning and avoid product withdrawal.

Role of the European Parliament

Together with the subsequent adoption of the reformed Basic Regulation on the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), the CMO scheme represents one of the three pillars of the latest CFP reform. By the end of 2022, the Commission has to submit an evaluation report on the outcome of the application of the CMO Regulation.

During the last CFP reform cycle, Parliament played an important role in shaping the current CMO. It was strongly advocating its revision so as to create a legal framework for a thriving sector with sustaining of incomes, greater market stability, high marketing standards and increased added value of fishery and aquaculture products.

On 29 May 2018, Parliament adopted a resolution on the optimisation of the value chain in the EU fishing sector[7]. Parliament called on the Commission, Member States and regional authorities to undertake a series of actions to tackle the complex challenges of the EU fishing sector, e.g. facilitating the creation of POs, empowering small-scale fisheries and including the gender approach in fisheries policies.

On 30 May 2018, Parliament adopted a resolution on the implementation of control measures for establishing the conformity of fisheries products with access criteria to the EU market[8], calling for all imported products to comply with the relevant EU food rules and criteria, including those of the CFP, as well as with sanitary, labour, vessel safety and environmental standards.

On 15 January 2020, Parliament adopted a resolution on the European Green Deal[9]. It called on the Commission to integrate fisheries and aquaculture products in its ‘farm-to-fork’ strategy with a view to reinforcing the sustainable value chain in the fisheries sector. Furthermore, it highlighted the need for action to combat plastic pollution, reduce food waste, fight food fraud and improve food labelling.

 

[9]Texts adopted, P9_TA(2020)0005.

Marcus Ernst Gerhard Breuer / María Dolores CASTRO CADENAS