Common Fisheries Police reform not yet a done deal – warning –

Common Fisheries Police reform not yet a done deal – warning Published:  07 January, 2013

SEVERAL hurdles still still remain on the way to effective  reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, says the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations this week.

As negotiators enter the final stretch (which may turn out to be a long haul) the Federation warns that the principle dangers at lie in two areas and they are:-

The polarisation of the CFP debate into simplistic adversarial politics, especially in the European Parliament, with the danger that subtleties of policy are lost in wild overstatement.The need for the main European institutions, the Commission, the Council and the Parliament to relinquish some of their detailed legislative role in order to secure a more effective CFP –  historically, powerful groups have been unwilling surrender power voluntarily

“The next few months are likely to be critical in determining whether the reform will deliver a new approach based on the flexibility that a regional dimension to policy formulation can bring, or alternatively, whether the centralising tendencies of European politics will hold the CFP in its grip.”

Emphasising that status quo is not an option  it says it is  worth considering that the choice is not between the status quo and decentralisation.

“The arrival of co-decision-making with the Lisbon Treaty already ensures that those decisions that are made in the centre will take much longer than the already sclerotic system we had to deal with previously. A rigid, cumbersome, inflexible system is about to become slower and less adaptable.”

The Federation adds: “How this inherent rigidity at the centre will articulate with the need for a flexible, responsive and adaptable system for developing relevant fisheries policy, and one which ensures the close involvement of stakeholders at regional level, will determine the fate of fishing within the CFP for the next decade or more.

“The key factor will be whether the European institutions can restrict their involvement to the strategic level in setting standards, principles and oversight and avoid dabbling in detail, setting unrealistic targets and timetables.

Earlier the NFFO said that something of a revolution had taken place in the past decade, adding”  Ten years ago, although organisations like the NFFO and the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation had been arguing for some time for a radical decentralisation of decision-making in the Common Fisheries Policy, the dominant view remained that tough measures designed in and applied from the centre, was the best, indeed the only way to turn the CFP around. Now it is hard to find anyone, beyond a few unreconstructed fundamentalists, who maintain that the solution lies with a top-down technocratic approach.”