XIV/859/99-EN Orig.


Orientation Document

Action plan for closer dialogue with the fishing industry and groups affected by the common fisheries policy

Introduction In 1971, the Commission set up the Advisory Committee on Fisheries (ACF) on the pattern of the agricultural Advisory Committees, comprising representatives of the major European fisheries trade organisations. Its main purpose was, and still is, to consult the industry on legislative proposals relating to the common fisheries policy (CFP). It has become abundantly clear that relations between the Commission and the fishing industry, especially in the framework of the ACF, are no longer satisfactory to either party. This has led the Commission to consider a reform of the Committee, whose role in the CFP must be enhanced. In 1997 to clarify the details of the reform, the Commission ordered a study of the trade organisations in the Member States of the European Union from an external consultant. This involved numerous interviews with the industry and civil service departments, which confirmed that there was a general desire for reform. After careful consideration by Commission departments of the results of the study and of an analysis of the development of the industry, two main ideas emerged on which to base the approach to reform: first, the idea that CFP issues extend beyond the fishing industry to involve civil society, and secondly, the idea that the structure and operational mode of the Committee no longer properly meet the requirements of an open and productive dialogue on the various aspects of a complex and integrated common policy. The Commission is seeking, through this reform, to create the conditions for responsible, wellinformed and transparent dialogue with all those actively concerned by the common fisheries policy, through: – closer dialogue with the fishing and aquaculture industry; – broader dialogue, involving associations active in environmental and development fields. The arrangements will be supported by measures upstream to strengthen European trade organisations and downstream in the framework of the Commission’s communication policy. This paper summarises the Commission’s planned measures with a view to consulting the circles concerned.


Justification for the action plan The first reason for undertaking reform of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries is to meet the need felt by the Commission for a better two-way flow of communication between the industry and the Community administration, to give a better idea of the industry’s position on the development of rules governing its activities. The purpose of this two-way flow of communication is to improve, with the industry’s help, the direction, design and implementation of the CFP, which is a highly integrated policy applying to widely diversified fishing activities, spread over a wide geographical area, and which is made even more complex to manage by the prospect of Community enlargement. But there is another reason for reform: the need to take account of concerns about the policy expressed by civil society. In practice, this means that the Commission would seek the involvement of consumer organisations, environmental movements and bodies working for overseas development which are concerned by certain aspects of the common fisheries policy, notably markets, conservation and fisheries agreements. Consequently, the structure and composition of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries should be adapted to take account of all the participants in the dialogue. The parties concerned are primarily trade organisations representing the fishing industry at European level. But they also include the associations and movements which bring the issues of the common fisheries policy to the attention of the public at large. Finally, to meet the need for better-informed discussion, the Commission could reserve the right to invite experts to act as occasional or standing contributors to committee discussions. The new structure and composition of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries should give priority to responsible expression of their position on Community matters by the groups represented. The level for responsible expression will be the committee in plenary session. This means that membership numbers for each category represented must be carefully gauged to ensure balance, while encouraging the expression of opinions at Community level. To ensure that discussions are well-informed, and of high technical quality, it is expected that the opinions of the trade will be prepared in advance by working groups whose composition would depend on the matter at issue. The need for sound and responsible opinions from the trade will be met by arrangements to coordinate the work of the plenary committee with that of working groups through the committee’s bureau and the publication of a work programme. However, reform of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries would be insufficient on its own to ensure substantial improvement of dialogue with the industry if the Commission did not at the same time take steps to help the trade organisations represented on the committee carry out all their tasks (initiative, representation, coordination, information) and to ensure that exchanges between the Commission and the parties concerned were passed down to the grass roots. A further objective should therefore be added: as well as being responsible and efficient, dialogue should be transparent. Consequently, it is proposed that the reform of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries should be accompanied by the adoption of measures to reinforce European fisheries trade organisations and to develop communication. The action plan is thus based on three parallel approaches: - Action 1: renewal of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries - Action 2: reinforcement of European trade organisations - Action 3: better communication with the industry and the other groups concerned. These three approaches in combination will contribute to strengthening dialogue between the Commission and the industry.
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Action 1 : renewal of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries

1. Primary task of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries: dialogue The Commission’s advisory committees are fora for the organisation of dialogue with groups whose interests are affected by Community policies. In the case of fisheries, the Commission regularly consults the trade on drawing up and implementing the common fisheries policy. Consultation is based mainly on hearing the industry’s views on the Commission’s plans. This is necessary but not sufficient. Problems connected with implementing the CFP, in particular monitoring of fishing activity, are evidence of the need to improve the industry’s involvement in the conduct of the policy. The trade should be asked to give thought to how the management of the industry can be improved, and to provide even more input than it has done so far. To this end, the Advisory Committee on Fisheries can become a forum for the trade to set out to the Commission its ideas for improving the general conditions for catching and marketing fisheries products. Instead of just a simple consultative organ, the Advisory Committee on Fisheries will then become an organ for dialogue between the Commission and the parties concerned by the design, development and application of the common fisheries policy.

2. The Commission’s three partners in dialogue First partner: the fishing industry. The dialogue concerns first and foremost all the trade organisations in the fishing industry whose members are directly affected by the provisions of the CFP. These organisations represent shipowners, fishermen, fish farmers, traders and processors. They have an essential contribution to make to the CFP. They will inevitably play the most important role in the dialogue. Second partner: associations affected by fisheries. The quality and price of fisheries products are of great interest to consumers, who are, indeed, already represented on the Advisory Committee on Fisheries, but in an unsatisfactory manner. Other associations and movements are concerned by such matters as interaction between the environment and fishing, or the contribution of fisheries agreements to the development of other regions of the world. It is therefore proposed that these movements should have a recognised role within the Advisory Committee on Fisheries. With this in mind, the Commission introduced an informal contact group in early 1998, comprising Europeanlevel fisheries associations and movements concerned by development and environmental issues. Third partner: experts. With such a complex and technical subject as the CFP to discuss, experts, especially in banking, auction management and research, have an indispensable contribution to make. The necessity for sound advice justifies the Commission in calling upon experts other than those designated by recognised bodies, if need be. Experts will be regularly represented in the working groups of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries.

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3. Structural organisation of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries The Advisory Committee on Fisheries will be able to do a proper job of promoting dialogue only if its structure, organisation and composition are adapted to its tasks. It is proposed that the new structure should involve a plenary committee with official status, and four working groups with a technical remit. There will be a bureau to act as a link between the plenary committee and the working groups, and a secretariat to run operations. The committee members will be drawn from the three groups identified above as discussion partners. The plenary committee (see ANNEX I) comprises one representative of each trade organisation and association or movement, and the members of the bureau. To ensure structured discussions and enhance efficiency, the total number of members on the plenary committee should not exceed 20, compared with 45 at present. The reduction in the number of members will be achieved by restricting the number of places for trade organisations to one for each European organisation. This will help to clarify the situation, since each organisation will be led to express a common position shared by all the members. It is important to avoid a share-out of seats within the Advisory Committee on Fisheries which mirrors and reinforces splits within the trade, as happens too often at present, certain organisations treating the Advisory Committee on Fisheries as a soapbox from which to express national views. All members of the plenary committee will be appointed for a three-year term by the Commission on a proposal from the European trade organisations and associations. One full member and one alternate will be appointed to each seat. The bureau comprises the chairmen and/or vice-chairmen of the working groups, i.e. seven persons appointed by the Commission on a proposal from the organisations. The functions of chairman and vice-chairman of the working groups will be allocated to specific organisations as a function of the type of work each does. The working groups (see ANNEX II) will be structured with a view to balance between the different sources of expertise sought, given the subjects to be dealt with. These working groups will discuss the major themes of the CFP. Given the main themes, and the need for balanced representation of the partners to the debate on each one, it seems appropriate to set up four working groups as follows: Group 1: Access to fisheries resources and management of fishing activity Group 2 : Aquaculture and shellfish gathering Group 3 : Markets and trade policy Group 4 : Community policies towards the industry and sectoral analysis Each group will comprise, in addition to a chairman and a vice-chairman appointed from the plenary committee, a maximum of 20 members chosen by the organisations as a function of the agenda, in compliance with the allocation of seats defined by the Commission As at present, the Commission will provide the secretariat.

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4. Organs and operational procedures for the Advisory Committee on Fisheries The plenary committee decides on the annual work programme and expresses the committee’s opinions. Each year in the course of its first meeting the plenary committee defines a work programme in agreement with the Commission, on a proposal from the bureau and the members. This programme takes account of the Commission’s own work programme and of the priorities of the members of the plenary committee. On the basis of this programme, the plenary committee meets as often as required to issue the opinions of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries (in principle not more than four times a year). The bureau allocates the subjects covered by the annual work programme between the working groups. It meets as often as required to follow the work programme, make sure the work of the groups is progressing and prepare the opinions of the plenary committee. The working groups meet as required when called by the secretariat to deal with a specific agenda. The chairman of each group reports on the group’s work to the plenary committee, via the bureau. The secretariat of the committee prepares and organises meetings (plenary committee, bureau and working groups) as a function of the work programme and current events on the one hand, and of the available budget and organisational resources on the other. The secretariat and the bureau organise the composition of the working parties in collaboration with the European organisations. The secretariat is responsible for records of meetings, documents, and contacts between committee members and the Commission. 5. Operating budget of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries The operating budget of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries covers the travelling and subsistence costs of members, not including secretarial expenditure (Commission staff) or organisational costs (meeting rooms, equipment and interpretation). In exceptional cases and for meetings organised outside Brussels, the budget also covers organisational costs (hire of properly-equipped meeting rooms, mission expenses for secretarial services). It is proposed that this operating budget should be adapted to take account of the extra activities of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries, which will henceforth include the organisation of regional fisheries management meetings.

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Action 2: reinforcement of European trade organisations 1. Streamlining representation of the trade on the Advisory Committee on Fisheries: The first condition for effective dialogue is to identify the European trade organisations and to help them make sure they are representative. Representativeness is expressed in terms of the number or relative weight of the organisations in the industry, and of a clear exposition of their tasks and their knowledge of the industry and of the issues involved in the common fisheries policy. The Commission expects these organisations to be able to reach a shared diagnosis for matters of common interest. When organisations are identified as suitable candidates for seats on the Advisory Committee on Fisheries, it should be borne in mind that some organisations are not very representative, while the influence of others is growing (aquaculture, producers’ organisations). Although the trade organisations are the Commission’s main discussion partner within the Advisory Committee, they are often short of financial and human resources, which makes them illprepared and materially under-equipped to take full advantage of the expertise available in the industry or to take a satisfactory part in the discussion. However, reducing the number of representatives of these organisations on the Advisory Committee on Fisheries, as provided for under Action 1 above, may undermine some organisations by discouraging certain members, whose sole reason for joining the European organisation is its access to the Advisory Committee on Fisheries. Without calling the down-sizing of the committee into question, since its aim is to achieve greater Community coherence, a way must be sought of consolidating the European organisations. 2. Reinforcement of European trade organisations: The Commission has identified within the fishing industry a certain number of old-established or more recent European organisations whose activity at Community level should be recognised and encouraged in the framework of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries. Four measures are proposed to enhance the capacity of these organisations to take part in dialogue. (i) Giving preference to European organisations and associations Direct contacts between the Commission and the trade are essential to proper administration, but Commission departments must give preference to European organisations. A national organisation has no incentive to join a European organisation if it has direct access to the Commission. The Commission must therefore be careful not to weaken the European organisations by signalling to members of the trade that it will meet them irrespective of their efforts towards European-level organisation. The same remark applies to associations. Direct contact between departments and the European organisations should be confined to discussing specific issues relevant to limited interest groups. All matters of general policy should be referred to the Advisory Committee on Fisheries, where European trade organisations and associations are represented in a balanced way.

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(ii) Ensuring that European trade organisations are accessible The Commission must ensure that it recognises only European organisations whose membership is open to all suitable national organisations. When a national organisation which meets all the general conditions for membership applies to join a European organisation, there should be no question of refusing. It would be very difficult for the Commission to recognise any European organisation which rejected such an application.

(iii) Clarifying the tasks and objectives of the organisations Another condition for reinforcing the European organisations is the clarification of their tasks and objectives. It will be difficult for the Commission to continue to allowing organisations which claim to have competence in the field of production to occupy seats on the committee that are supposed to represent shipowners, fishermen and fish farmers. The same applies to organisations claiming to be competent for marketing and processing of fisheries products. Within organisations, there is sometimes some confusion between the interests of employers and employees, fishermen and farmers, importers and processors, because the organisations to which they belong accepted all comers and are now faced with internal conflicts of interest which prevent them from defining a common position for their members. An analogous problem may arise for organisations that cover a geographical area extending beyond the confines of the Union. Associations that have a Brussels office, but a global membership, may find it difficult to define an approach within the framework of Community policy. This situation often arises for budgetary reasons; it calls for a budgetary remedy. These organisations must be helped to do without the aid that makes them dependent on outside interests. At the same time, they should form internal groups for the purpose of representing clearly identifiable interests at Community level. The Commission, for its part, should be ready and willing to encourage new organisations to join existing organisations, or if not, to encourage the setting up of new European organisations to achieve more coherent and clearer representation of the industry at European level. However, the Commission cannot take responsibility for the operation of these organisations, whose independence, including financial independence, must be preserved.

(iv) Financial support to improve European coordination The financial resources of European trade organisations are limited compared to those available to national organisations, although the cost of attending meetings in Brussels is very high. This situation reflects the choice of the national organisations to give lower priority to representation at European level compared with a line of defence that is often confined to their own country, and is also due to the fact that European organisations are financed solely from members’ dues, with no government assistance. Consequently, it would be desirable to identify a legal basis upon which financial support could be given to the European trade organisations to help them reinforce their links of coordination and offset the effect of reducing the number of seats available to them by taking over some of their organisational expenditure. This expenditure would include the cost of organising meetings in preparation for Advisory Committee meetings. It might also cover the organisation of inter7 16/02/99

regional meetings (between several Community regions), and could enable the European organisations to strengthen networking with national, regional and local organisations. Without being permanent, this measure should be maintained until the trade organisations have found resources of their own that make it superfluous.

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Action 3: better communication with the industry and the other groups concerned Effective dialogue with the representatives of the fishing industry and the other interest groups concerned depends largely on the general level of information about the common fisheries policy  objectives, means and constraints  among these groups. If the Commission wishes to improve the quality of dialogue it must also improve its communication with the industry and encourage the scientific world to ensure a similar quality of dialogue with fishermen. That is why DG XIV began last year to take action and introduce tools for direct information to the grass roots of the industry. This task was entrusted to a new administrative unit, the communication, information and studies unit, which has developed its activities by exploiting various means of communication. – – – – DG XIV’s website on the Commission’s Internet server EUROPA; a monthly magazine PESCA INFO (10 000 copies); organisation of events on particular themes; development of contacts with specialised or regional media.

These activities have been very well received on the whole. However, the dissemination of information needs to be developed, and communication should be more interactive. With this in mind, DG XIV is at present working on a number of projects: – development of targeted information material for the trade and the press, in the form of printed documents, and audiovisual and electronic material; – a new version of PESCA INFO, so that the magazine can deal with all aspects of the common fisheries policy and not just the activities of the Structural Funds. These means of communication could be used to explain present rules more clearly, and to invite comments on proposals for changes to the regulatory framework. Information and communication policy could then give better support to the process of formal consultation. It will, however, be necessary to provide the resources required for a steady effort to improve the quality of the information and communication policy. But although the common fisheries policy is complex and ambitious, the Commission has no specific budgetary resources that would enable it to plan medium-term measures. Commission departments propose as part of this action plan that there should be an adequate budget to ensure that fisheries policy information measures can be sufficiently stable to provide genuine added value to communication with the industry. The budget needed to implement the communication and information policy should include a heading for producing and circulating the new information magazine in eleven languages on all aspects of the common fisheries policy, and a heading for the production of targeted information material, also in eleven languages, in the form of printed, audiovisual and electronic documents, including on-going up-dating of the website. Financing should also be set aside to organise information and training seminars, especially for opinion leaders (twice a year), and for surveys of the groups targeted to enable information to be tailored to their needs. .

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XIV/859/99-EN Orig. FR

Advisory Committee on Fisheries

FST (fishermen)

EUROPECHE (shipowners) Fishing and associated committee COGECA (shipowners) AEOP (producers’ org.) Sectorial Dialogue Committee (2) Aquaculture COGECA (Shellfish) FEAP (Fish)

20 members

Trade organisations

Bureau 7 members

Secrétariat Commission

Ch. = Chair;

Marketing and processing

AFIEEC (Marketing) AFIEEC (Processors)

Ch: Europêche V.-Ch.: COGECA


Chair: AFIEEC Vice-Ch.: AEOP

Chair: Europêche

Working Group n° 1

Working Group n° 2
Aquaculture and shellfish gathering

Working Group n° 3
Markets and trade policy

Working Group n° 4
V.-Ch. = Vice-Chair


Environment Development

Access to fisheries resources and management of fishing activity

Community policies towards the industry and sectoral analysis




Scientific committee


For the structure of Working Groups, see Annex II


WORKING GROUP n° 1 Access to fisheries resources and management of fishing activity
(except shellfish gathering) Main areas of interest Principles and basic fisheries Regulation ( Reg. 3760/92 on the CFP) Relative stability Environmental matters Precautionary approach: medium-term and long-term management objectives and strategies Technical measures (selectivity) Decentralisation of CFP implementation Fishing rights: transfers, fishing licences and permits

Community waters TACs and quotas Fishing effort Fishing capacity (MAGP) Monitoring fishing activity Non-Community waters Law of the sea: straddling stocks Cost-benefit analysis of fisheries agreements Access to international waters or managed grounds (regional organisations) Access to third-country waters and fisheries agreements Cooperation and development

Composition of the working group (15 members)

5 Europêche

1 STECF economist 3 Cogeca 1 STECF biologist 2 FST

1 environmental NGO 1 AEOP 1 development NGO

The Commission may appoint additional experts, depending on the subject (grey portion of pie chart).

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Aquaculture and shellfish gathering

Main areas of interest -fish farming group General rules governing farming Environmental issues concerning catchment areas and marine fish farms Fish-farm pathology and treatment (GMO, vaccines, hormones) Animal welfare -shellfish farming and gathering group General rules governing farming Environmental issues and structural works in coastal areas Epidemics

Composition of the working group( 14 members)


4 COGECA 1 STECF economist

1 STECF biologist 1 NGO 1 FST 1 AEOP

The Commission may appoint additional experts, depending on the subject (grey portion of pie chart).

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Markets and trade policy Main areas of interest

Trade policy (WTO) Common organisation of markets (COM) Catch plans and contractual arrangements (links with TACs) Quality schemes (labels) Certification of responsible fishing (ecolabelling) Promotion of fisheries products GMOs and health issues

Composition of the working group (17 members)

1 STECF 1 auctioneers association


1 Europêche


1 banker


1 consumer

The Commission may appoint additional experts, depending on the subject (grey portion of pie chart).

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Community policies towards the industry and sectoral analysis

Main areas of interest

The common fisheries policy after 2002 Social and economic analysis of the industry Monitoring Data bases Research and development programmes State aid schemes and structural measures Communication and the industry’s image

Composition of the working group (18 members)

2 Sectorial Committee

Dialogue 1 STECF economist 3 Europêche 1 COGECA

1 AEOP 1 banker

1 consumer


1 development NGO. 1 environmental NGO


The Commission may appoint additional experts, depending on the subject (grey portion of pie chart).

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ANNEX II-5 Composition of the bodies of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries I-Composition of the plenary committee Full From Working Total per Members groups (see III) organisation EUROPECHE 1 2 3 Industry COGECA fisheries 1 1 2 AEOP 1 1 2 FEAP 1 0.5 1.5 COGECA aqua 1 0.5 1.5 FST 1 1 Social Dialogue 2 2 AFIEEC marketing 1 1 2 AFIEEC proc. 1 1 2 CONSUM. 1 1 Associations ENVIRONT 1 1 DEVELOPT 1 1 13 7 20 Total per cat. II- Working groups: number of seats per organisation and per group GROUP n°1 Conservation Industry : EUROPECHE COGECA AEOP FST Social Dialogue FEAP AFIEEC Associations CONSUM ENVIRON DEVELOP Experts BANKING AUCTIONS BIOLOGY ECONOMICS 5 3 1 2 GROUP n° 2 Aquaculture GROUP n°3 Markets 1 1 3 GROUP n°4 General matters 3 2 1 1 2 1 3 1 1 1 1 Organisations

4 1 1 5

1 5 1 1

1 1


1 1 1 1 1 1 III- Members of the bureau GROUP n°1 Conservation Chair Vice chair GROUP n°2 aquaculture ½ Chair Vice chair Chair ½ Chair



GROUP n°3 markets


GROUP n°4 General matters Chair

Vice chair


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