Commission adopts implementing rules for European Fisheries Fund

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
28 March 2007, at 1:00am

EU - The European Commission has adopted the rules on the implementation of the European Fisheries Fund (EFF). The purpose of this Commission regulation is to set out in detail how Member States should implement the EFF in line with the priorities laid down in the basic regulation adopted by Council in June 2006. These rules complete the legal framework of the EFF, and the Member States will now be able to finalise their operational programmes and present them to the Commission for approval. The EFF is the major fund through which the European Union will provide financial support to the fisheries sector over the period 2007-2013.

"All the necessary legislation is now in place to allow funding to start. I encourage Member States to ensure that their national strategies and operational programmes are forwarded to the Commission as soon as possible so that there are no delays in the allocation of EFF aid to their industries or fishing communities.", Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Fisheries and European Affairs remarked.

The EFF will help meet the aim of the Common Fisheries Policy in securing sustainable fisheries. It will support the fishing industry as it adapts its fleet to make it more competitive and promote measures to protect and enhance the environment. The EFF will also help fisheries communities most affected by the resulting changes to diversify their economic base.

The implementing regulation lays down the detailed procedures to be followed by the Member States in drawing up and implementing their operational programmes. It also contains provisions covering:

  • Detailed rules for the implementation of eligible measures under the EFF;

  • The structure and content of operational programmes;

  • Detailed provisions for the management, monitoring and control of the operational programmes;

  • Publicity and information obligations;

  • The obligations of the Member States with regard to irregularities; and

  • Treatment of personal data and protection of privacy.

In line with the December 2005 Action Plan on simplifying and improving the CFP, this regulation aims to simplify the CFP financial procedures. It therefore brings together all the necessary legal provisions in a single text. Under the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG), the EFF's predecessor - which ran from 2000 to 2006 - the equivalent provisions were presented in nine separate regulations.

The EFF has a budget of approximately € 3.8 billion in 2004 prices (€ 4.3 billion in current inflation-adjusted prices), and funding will be available for all sectors of the industry – sea and inland fisheries, aquaculture businesses, producer organisations, and the processing and marketing sectors - as well as for fisheries areas.

There are five main priorities for funding under the EFF: helping the fleet to adapt fishing capacity and effort to available fish resources; providing support to various industry branches (aquaculture, processing, marketing); provision of aid for operations to support the collective interest of the sector; promoting the sustainable development of fisheries-dependent areas, and providing technical assistance to Member States to facilitate the delivery of aid.

It is up to Member States to propose how they will allocate funds between these various priorities when drawing up their national operational programmes. It is then for the Commission to approve the programmes, after having ensured that they are in line with the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy.

It is anticipated that most of these programmes will be approved by the Commission in the course of the second half of 2007.