In her address, Elena Espinosa mentioned the main "pillars" that should comprise the common fisheries policy, which included setting a sustainable level for exploiting resources; assuring stable conditions for economic agents in the fishing sector and avoiding unnecessary changes.
She also underlined the need to comply with international commitments in order to achieve the 2015 objectives, long-term management plans, applying reductions for those activities linked to overexploited fish populations and rebuilding decimated populations.
Espinosa placed particular emphasis on the fact that decisions should be taken based on scientific reports and the principles of caution and she said that these "pillars" would determine the fishing quotas for 2011, an issue that will continue to be discussed until December.
As far as the future of the common fisheries policy is concerned, the Spanish Minister indicated that it is "inextricably related" to the above and she stated that "we must make progress for it to become sustainable from a social, economic and environmental standpoint".
“A policy for the future that does not question either the activity nor the survival of the sector, and we are at an early stage. We will carry on working and I believe that the next milestone will be in November, under the Belgian Presidency", she added.
The European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, María Damanaki, expressed her thanks for the “productive co-operation” attained with the Spanish Presidency of the EU and said that reforms in this area had been on the agenda since the outset.
Damanaki indicated that an agreement has been reached to respect scientific opinions, adding that it is impossible to continue with the same policies "as if nothing were happening", citing, by way of an example, that by the year 2022, only 8 out of 136 species would be sustainable.
Both Espinosa and Damanaki insisted on the need to pursue a "responsible and sustainable" fishing policy, in their appearance before the media on this subject, which will conclude this afternoon with the debate on agriculture.
Evaluation of the Spanish Presidency
Before the Council got under way, Elena Espinosa expressed her satisfaction regarding the work undertaken by the rotating presidency of the EU, believing that the matters within her area of competence will be "clearly mirrored in Europe's future".
The Spanish minister placed particular emphasis on the fact that agriculture now appears in the "2020 Strategy" (the EU's plan for economic growth and employment) as a "strategic sector", which also mentions the struggle to defend biodiversity.
"The issues in my area of competence will be clearly mirrored in Europe's future," the Spanish minister said.