17 October 2013
Deep-sea regulation stuck in Parliament
17 October 2013
The Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament announced this morning that the vote on the deep-sea fishing regulation will not take place today as scheduled. This file is set to break all records of stagnation: 15 months after the European Commission released its proposal, it still has not gone through the bottleneck of the Fisheries Committee and its 25 members. Even the extremely complex reform of the Common Fisheries Policy was passed faster than the deep-sea fishing regulation.
In addition, the file has not yet been opened at the European Council of Fisheries Ministers because of underground and toxic diplomacy led by France, contradicting the French Prime Minister’s announcement on September 21, 2013 that France was now willing to discuss the deep-sea file at EU level.
German Socialist MEP Ulrike Rodust this morning requested that the deep-sea vote go ahead in the November 4th Fisheries Committee meeting.
Each delay knocks back the schedule by a further 3 to 4 weeks. Slowly and surely, the vote approaches the dangerous zone of the European elections as MEPs focus on campaigning in their constituencies ahead of the elections in May 2014. These delays benefit the industrial deep-sea fishing sector and the professional lobbying firms they have hired in order to weaken the European Commission’s deep-sea proposal and the changes proposed by Greek rapporteur Kriton Arsenis.
Members of the Fisheries Committee are currently negotiating with the rapporteur to find compromises between the amendments proposed by both sides: on one side a block dominated by the right (but including French Socialist MEP Isabelle Thomas) supports the amendments put forward by the industry; on the other, a block formed by the Socialists & Democrats, the Greens and some of the center parties. An agreement could be reached for the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems and the requirement for impact assessments to be carried out before fishing takes place.
The good (or bad) faith of MEPs defending industrial fishing positions will become obvious at the time of voting. If, rather than adopting an amended report, MEPs reject it completely, preventing the Parliament as a whole from considering this important issue, it would prove that all these cumulative delays were not the result of a genuine search for compromise but merely a tactic to jeopardize the protection of the deep sea.
We will know the answer on November 4.