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Irish Minister Aims to Reach Political Agreement on CFP Reform

30 January 2013

EU - Simon Coveney has chaired the first meeting of Ireland’s Presidency of the Agri/Fish Council. The Irish Presidency’s overarching goal for the new Common Fisheries Policy is for a sustainable, profitable and self reliant industry that protects and enhances the social and economic fabric of rural coastal communities dependent on the seafood sector, while balancing these objectives with the need to deliver sustainable fisheries for future generations.

At the Agri/Fish Council, Minister for Irish Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, presented the priorities for fisheries during the Irish Presidency and the work programme for the six months ahead.

Minister Coveney identified reform of the Common Fisheries Policy as the number one priority for the Irish Presidency.

The Minister presented a work programme to progress and adopt a new reformed Common Fisheries Policy. The ambitious work programme outlined the intention of reaching a Council agreement on the Basic Regulation of the Common Fisheries Policy at the February Council. In February, trialogues are to begin between the Council, Parliament and Commission on the Regulation of Common Markets Organisation. A Council agreement on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Regulation is planned for the April Council. This will allow for the opening of trialogue negotiations on all three regulations with a view to obtaining full political agreement during the Irish Presidency.

The Minister acknowledged the challenges ahead and emphasised the importance of the EU Parliament Council and Commission finding common ground on the issues such as delivering on maximum sustainable yield, the elimination of discards and regionalisation.

“Ireland’s Presidency objective is to reach a political agreement on all three CFP Regulations by the end of June 2013. Clearly this objective can only be realised if there is strong commitment from the Council, the Parliament and the Commission. It is very important to note that there is significant common ground on many of the critical issues on the reform such as achieving MSY and the elimination of discards. There are divergent views on the detail of these policies but the core values are, I believe, accepted by all of the institutions,” Minister Coveney commented.

An exchange of views on the key priorities and timing on the CFP Reform Package followed where Minister Coveney sought support for his objective of achieving political agreement. Ministers at the Council strongly supported the programme of work and timetable and committed to working constructively with the Presidency.

Other important areas discussed at Council included technical and control measures in the Skagerrak and the successful outcome of recent negotiations between the EU and Norway.

EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki also commented: "I welcome the level of ambition of the Irish Presidency. I am satisfied with the schedule that was presented and got the support of all Ministers around the table: if we keep that timing, at the end of the Irish Presidency, we will reach an agreement on a new Common Fisheries policy, which can be sustainable and profitable for the sector at the same time, creating growth and jobs.

"On the proposal for a discard ban in the Skaggerak, she added: "This proposal is very important because, for the first time, a discard ban will become reality. I am looking forward to finalising all arrangements. We decided to go forward, progressing on regionalisation and giving to Member States the possibility to choose their own way to control the discard ban and to go for selectivity and avoidance measures. I hope that the outcome of these negotiations will underline our common commitment to go for a general discard ban as soon as possible," she concluded.

A lunchtime discussion was also held on the issue of institutional competencies with regard to multi-annual management plans. Minister Coveney stressed the importance of Council and Parliament working together to find an acceptable solution to the difficult issue of inter-institutional roles under Article 43 of the Lisbon Treaty

He concluded: “As President of the EU Fisheries Council my overall vision is to build a modern and competitive fisheries sector which is important not only for jobs and growth, but also for sustainable, long-term global food security.”

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