In December 2012, the European Parliament Fisheries Committee was to vote on the future CFP Basic Regulation. More than 100 consolidated amendments have been published, including several concerning the future external dimension of the CFP policy. These compromises, negotiated among a group of ‘shadow rapporteurs’ (one MEP from each political group), will facilitate the voting in the fisheries committee by reducing the total number of amendments to be voted on – the consolidated amendments are replacing a number of the 2,500 amendments initially tabled.
Regarding the external dimension of the CFP, the amendments generally translate what has been agreed in the EP resolution on the external dimension voted in November 2012. The need to improve policy coherence, with particular regard to environmental, development and trade activities, is emphasised. International action to eradicate illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing is also proposed. One action already proposed by the Commission in that context is the promotion of an international catch-certification scheme, so that no IUU fisheries product enters the lucrative international trade.
In terms of future fishing agreements, it is proposed to define more clearly in the Basic Regulation what should be included in such agreements:
- A requirement for compliance ‘with the principle of limiting access to resources scientifically demonstrated to be surplus for the coastal state in line with the provisions of UNCLOS’;
- A clause of non-discrimination, to ensure that the different fleets fishing in third-country waters abide by the same rules;
- A conditionality clause that requires respect for human rights;
- An exclusivity clause, to ensure that EU-flagged vessels only fish in the framework of the agreement.
The vote on the future CFP Basic Regulation in the European Parliament Fisheries Committee is an important moment for the reform. It paves the way for the final EP position which, together with the Council, will frame the future CFP, based on the EC proposals. On the external dimension it seems so far that there is a high degree of convergence in the positions of these institutions. One issue that has to be clarified, concerning future fishing agreements, is the issue of ‘surplus’. Defining the surplus is the prerogative of the coastal state. It is a political decision which has to be based on sound scientific advice and on the coastal state’s sustainable development plans. The role of the EU, as flag state, is to ensure that its fleets operate sustainably in third-country waters, including through respecting a ‘surplus principle’ defined by the coastal state on such a basis.