Harmful subsidies: the European Commission warns new MEPs on catastrophic vote of former European Parliament

On Tuesday 23rd of July the first work meeting of the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament was held. On this occasion, the Director-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission, João Aguiar Machado, participated in an exchange of views on the state of European fisheries and alerted the new MEPs on the most urgent issue needing attention in his opinion: the next European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). This fund will determine the allocation of more than 6 billion euros of public subsidies to the fisheries and aquaculture sectors and to the protection of the marine environment for the period 2021-2027.

This observation by the Director General João Aguiar Machado is in accordance with our analyses and shows great concern and disappointment about the catastrophic positions adopted by the former European Parliament in April and by the Council last June: “The EMFF discussions give me the impression that our collective commitment to sustainable fisheries is disappearing and that we are abandoning these common ambitions.” The Director General reiterated the need to put an end to the harmful subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, as required by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14.6. In particular, he highlighted the scandalous resolve of the former Parliament and the Council to reintroduce aides for the construction of new boats, a practice banned since 2004 in the European Union, “banned precisely because they had contributed to a serious overcapacity in the European fleet which has caused very high levels of overfishing of many fish stocks.”

As reminded by the Commission, this backward move of 15 years sends an extremely negative signal to the international community, while negotiations are underway at the World Trade Organization to ban these harmful subsidies by 2020: “It is unacceptable that taxpayers’ money be used to challenge our international commitments.” More than ever, BLOOM, alongside NGOs BirdLife, ClientEarth, Seas At Risk and WWF, remains mobilized and will continue to fight against this disastrous position in order to obtain the prohibition of harmful subsidies. Discussions on this topic will continue in the autumn to decide on the further course of action in this matter, while the tripartite negotiations (the “trilogue” between the Council, the Parliament, and the Commission) should begin in the autumn.

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