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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Fernand Boden presents the Luxembourg Presidency’s priorities for fisheries to the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries

Date of Speech : 02-02-2005

Place : Brussels

Speaker : Fernand Boden

Policy area : Agriculture and Fisheries Agriculture and Fisheries

Mr Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen Members of the Committee,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to speak before the European Parliament and to address your Committee. First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the hard work and determination of my predecessor, Cees Veerman. Not only did he complete the first rule on TACs and quotas in the enlarged Europe and two important decisions on deep-water species, but he also made considerable progress with regard to the Control Agency and the European Fisheries Fund. Part of my work will be to move these two matters to the next stage.

Four priorities

The Luxembourg Presidency’s work will be centred on four clearly established priorities. The first is to make the fisheries sector more viable within the context of the new common fisheries policy. The second is to simplify fisheries legislation, and the third is to improve fisheries control and inspection, mainly by the establishment of the Community Fisheries Control Agency.

Finally, we would like to move as far as possible on the matter of the European Fisheries Fund.


Sustainability, which is at the heart of the project we are trying to carry out, means moving towards the reforms we have undertaken and the international commitments we made in Johannesburg. The three main paths we would like to follow within this context are as follows:

The first is conservation. Some stocks are not in good condition. We need to take concrete steps that are occasionally painful in order to get replenishment on track. We are awaiting your opinions on the plans to replenish the stocks of Southern hake, Norway lobster and sole, on which discussions have been under way for some time. A plan to replenish the stocks of black halibut in the zone that comes under NAFO (Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation) also awaits you, and another plan is being prepared for cod from the eastern Baltic. These replenishment plans are among the issues we will be stressing.

Other stocks are not in such poor condition; nonetheless, they require long-term management. The Committee announced a communication on the long-term management plans and expressed its intention of proposing several of these plans. These plans have to do with the North Sea plaice, Baltic and Celtic Sea cod and monkfish from the Cantabrian Sea and the western waters of the Iberian Peninsula. We shall review these plans as the Committee submits them.

The same applies to the future rule establishing short-term steps to manage eel. I am aware that this is a sensitive issue for many countries of the European Union. Moreover, the eel’s life cycle makes it a difficult species to manage.

We should also re-examine access to the "Shetland Box" and the "Plaice Box," as agreed within the context of the CFP reform.

Secondly, sustainability requires technical conservation measures that protect the environment, and my Irish counterpart paid considerable attention to these measures last year. We would like to move this issue forward by adopting measures in the Baltic Sea and in the Mediterranean.

Against this background, the measures proposed for the Mediterranean were rather controversial when introduced. I hope that your opinion, to be submitted next month, will give us a few suggestions for the future so that we can have a productive exploratory debate in the Council in March and, if all goes well, adopt these important measures before the summer recess.

Sustainability also requires a third component, that of the agreements between the Community and other countries. The Council has drawn up conclusions on its conception of such agreements, and we would like to take specific steps to implement them. The negotiations for a new agreement with Angola and a first agreement with Libya are already under way. Negotiations that take this new approach into account are also expected to begin with Cape Verde, Gabon and São Tomé e Príncipe in the next six months.

We hope that the bilateral negotiations with Russia on fisheries in the Baltic Sea will also begin soon as part of the extension of the Community’s decision to withdraw from the Convention of Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources in the Baltic Sea and the Belts. The goal here is to put in place a new bilateral agreement by early 2006.


Now let’s move on to our second priority: simplification. This is a medium-term objective that I share, in particular with my counterparts from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and for which we shall be working together to carry it out. It is crucial for the Community to adopt laws that are clear, applicable and appropriate. We are awaiting with interest the Committee’s action plan on this matter and are planning to have the ministers review it in the spring.

Control and implementation

Our third priority is control and implementation. This is one of the most sensitive components of the common fisheries policies, without which this policy would be powerless. Scientists have drawn our attention to the need to strengthen control and implementation. The replenishment plan for North Sea cod and the management plan for Baltic Sea cod are just two examples of cases in which insufficient control jeopardises our conservation objectives.

Therefore, I shall be paying special attention to three proposals in this area.

The first has to do with the Community Fisheries Control Agency. I am especially delighted that you will be able to submit your opinion on this proposal by the end of this month, because the Council could then adopt the proposal in the spring. I am keen to learn your point of view on certain sensitive issues that the proposal raises. The creation of this agency should make a major contribution to establishing the conditions of equality that the fishermen are demanding in this area.

The second proposal has to do with electronic communication. Although rather technical by nature, it offers us concrete tools to enable us to achieve our objectives.

The third proposal is perhaps the most sensitive. It has to do with the harmonised conditions relating to special permits. This proposal, which came out of the Council last December, is tantamount to acknowledging that control is of little value if there are no measures to force compliance with the rules. Drawing up measures that are not only equitable and well-proportioned but effective as well will not be easy. We are counting on the Committee to send us in due course its proposal on this matter and we are eager to know your opinion.

European Fisheries Fund

The implementation of a policy requires money. That is why our discussions on the European Fisheries Fund are at the heart of meeting the objectives we have set for ourselves within the context of the Common Fisheries Policy reform.

We had an initial exploratory debate in the Council last October, and we plan to have another one in April. Generally speaking, we shall attempt to move the work in this area forward as quickly as possible. This project is part of our objective, which is included in the 2005 annual programme; it involves doing everything possible to reach an agreement on the Fund within the context of the 2007-2013 financial perspectives, during the Luxembourg Presidency if possible.

I also sincerely hope that during our Presidency the Committee will be able to submit its proposal on the financial perspectives that the European Fisheries Fund does not cover.


At its session on 24 January 2005, the Council reviewed the tragic situation of the countries of south-east Asia that were struck by the tsunami late last year, particularly with regard to the fisheries sector. The Council warmly welcomed the initiatives the Committee has already undertaken as well as those that it plans to take, including the imminent introduction of a proposal for a rule on behalf of the communities of fishermen who lost their boats. On this occasion, the Council has decided to treat this proposal as a priority and to ask the European Parliament to state its opinion according to the emergency procedure.

The Council also emphasised the need for an effective and concerted action to assist communities of fishermen who were severely affected. It has supported the Committee’s initiative to have the FAO evaluate the needs and coordinate the reconstruction of the fisheries and aquaculture sector with a view to sustainability.

Informal meeting of the directors-general

In March, the Presidency will host an informal meeting of the directors-general, at which the issue of succession in the fisheries sector will be reviewed, and the recruiting and training of young fishermen in particular.


You can see the scope of the programme to be carried out, especially with regard to the pending legislative proposals. As you have understood, my objective is to move these proposals forward and to adopt as many of them as possible. To this end, I need the support that you can give me so that the Parliament will state its opinion on a series of proposals. Once we have established this legislative corpus and set up the Community Fisheries Control Agency, I believe that we can make considerable progress towards achieving our objective of ensuring the sustainability of fishing activities. This is the delicate balance between fish and fishermen, between the current and the next generation, that is so difficult to strike and a genuine challenge. I am delighted at the prospect of working with you over the next six months and doing everything to rise to this challenge.

Mr Chairman, I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

This page was last modified on : 04-02-2005

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