During its past term, the European Parliament delivered a prominent and ambitious reform of the Common Fisheries Policy intending to bring our seas back to life through the recovering of fish stocks, minimising the impact of fishing on the marine environment and also protecting it, and ecosystem-based managing to restore aquatic biodiversity and ecosystems. Furthermore, the EU has set a goal to deliver a good environmental status of marine waters by 2020.
There still needs several follow-up initiatives to ensure we can achieve healthy seas by 2020, including the adoption of multi-annual plans, the development of discard plans, a framework for revised technical measures and comprehensive action to improve compliance with the EU’s fisheries and conservation laws, and the implementation of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.
A strong and effective Commission that steers the EU towards the agreed goals is therefore required.
But can the Commissioner-designate Vella deliver these goals? Not unless the European Parliament achieves fundamental changes to his mandate, including to specifically deliver the commitments set out in the 7th Environment Action Programme. Moreover, the proposed new structure of the Juncker Commission, in which the sole right to initiate legislation is vested with the Vice-Presidents, will probably prevent Commissioner-designate Vella from pursuing his role in full. Therefore, one of the Vice-President has to be given the explicit mandate to secure the integration of sustainability considerations in EU policy.
As chair of the Fisheries Committee in the European Parliament, Alain Cadec has the opportunity to put this forward to Commissioner-designate Vella, emphasising the link between fisheries and environment.
For more information, please see the open letter to Alain Cadec by the NGOs.
Bruna Campos, EU Marine and Fisheries Policy Officer