COUNCIL OFBrussels, 10 February 2012
THE EUROPEAN UNION
CMPT 9 PE 63 INST 126 FIN 89 -
General Secretariat of the Council
Subject: Summary of the meeting of the European Parliament Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT), held in Brussels on 9 February 2012
The meeting was chaired by Mr Theurer (ALDE, DE)
Appointment of a member of the Court of Auditors - Mr Baudilio TOME MUGURUZA / ES
Ms Ayala Sender (S&D, ES), rapporteur, regretted that the Spanish government had withdrawn the
nomination of Mr Corona Ramón, as this cast a shadow on the independence of Mr Tomé
Muguruza, although she did not question his technical and professional competence. Mr Tomé
Muguruza considered that independence was not an issue, given his background, and the essentially
technical mission of the Court of Auditors. He assured CONT that in case of appointment he would
be exclusively committed to the CoA and would focus on it. As Mr Theurer highlighted Spain's
high error rate and questioned him about his attitude towards his own country, he said in English
that he would not differentiate between Spain or elsewhere in assessing the way structural funds
were applied. He insisted to Mr Skylakakis (EPP, EL) that the fact of belonging to a political party
would not impinge on his independence and demonstrated it with his constant dialectic approach to
party leadership. Mr Audy (EPP, FR), criticised the independence issue raised by the rapporteur,
as, in his view, the issue of independence was solely political and the rapporteur herself was in
conflict of interest. Mr Rivellini (EPP, IT) supported this view and said that only technical
competencies should be the subject of the hearing. Mr Geier (S&D, DE) objected to the fact that
there was no consistency with the position of the EPP group at the time of the previous hearing of a
Spanish candidate, as Mr Corona Ramón's candidature was put into question by the fact that it had
been proposed by a government of a different political persuasion.
CONT delivered a favourable opinion on the Council's nomination of Mr Tome Muguruza as a
Member of the Court of Auditors. The Report of Ms Ayala Sender (S&D, ES) with the draft
EP Decision will be submitted for adoption to the February plenary in Strasbourg.
3. Amendment of Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 as regards certain provisions relating to risk sharing instruments for Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability
Responsible: REGI Ms Hübner (PPE, PL)
Mr Rivellini (PPE, IT), rapporteur for the opinion, recalled that the crisis was jeopardising the
implementation of cohesion policy programmes as the liquidity problems being faced by financial
institutions is limiting the amount of financing available to the public and private stakeholders
carrying out the underlying projects. He therefore welcomed the Commission proposal and noted
that the main objective was to improve the access to financing to the promoters of projects in order
to allow them to continue the implementation of the Structural Funds and Cohesion Fund
programmes on the ground. In order to do so, a risk-sharing instrument would be created which
would provide additional liquidity to implement infrastructure and productive investments projects
without modifying the overall allocation under cohesion policy for the period 2007-2013.
Nevertheless, he announced several amendments with the aim of increasing the impact, efficiency
and effectiveness of the proposed measures. Among other things, he suggested opening access to
the proposed risk-sharing instruments to all Member States (MSs), and broadening the scope of the
proposal by including provisions to support relevant SME projects. Mr Stavrakakis (S&D, EL)
supported the rapporteur and announced an amendment to align the measures with the Europe 2020
strategy and to strengthen support to SMEs. Mr Hartong (NI, NL) opposed the scheme, as he
Ms Andreasen (EFD, UK), rapporteur, welcomed the special report, as according to her, it
highlighted what she considered a failure of EU spending. She recalled that EUR 1,7 billion had
been spent since 2001, without solving the problem of over-fishing and with the lost of 100,000
jobs. According to her, national governments should be given back the management of fishing
policy. She asked Mr Lazarou whether MSs that had not been monitored presented specific
problems and whether automatic sanctions could not represent a reply to non-compliance. She
asked the representative of the Commission why the last assessment of fishing over-capacity dated
back 15 years. Mr Lazarou recalled that MSs submitted to monitoring represented 80% of the
budget and recalled that decisions on automatic sanctions fall within the competence of the
The representative of the Commission agreed with some of the remarks made in the special report
and by the rapporteur, concerning measuring over-capacity and eligibility costs for fishing fleets.
As for the updating of the fleet register, the Commission recalled that information has to come from
MSs. He also announced that many points would be addressed for the reform of the fishing policy,
in particular the measure of over-capacity. He justified the absence of an assessment of over-
capacity during the last 15 years recalling the Council decision not to make capacity reduction
Ms Andreasen announced that the report would be discussed on 23 April.
SPECIAL REPORT 12/2011
Have EU measures contributed to adapting the capacity of the fishing
fleets to available fishing opportunities?
Presentation to COCOBU on 09.02.2012
By Lazaros S. Lazarou
Mr President and Members of the CONT Committee,
I'm pleased to present the Court's Special Report No 12/2011 on EU measures to
adapt the capacity of its fishing fleets to available fishing opportunities.
This Special Report comes at an important time for the Common Fisheries Policy, as
the Commission's proposals for a reformed CFP and the new European Maritime and
Fisheries Fund are due for consideration by the legislative authorities.
I would like to briefly go over the background to the report, then highlight the main
conclusions, and recommendations made by the Court.
Starting with the background to the report:
For many years, fish catches and fish stocks of the EU have been in decline. Fishing
at unsustainable levels is both threatening the long term viability of fish stocks and
the livelihood of the fishing sector.
Since the last reform of the CFP in 2002, fish catches have declined by 1 million
tonnes and 70,000 jobs in the fishing sector have been lost.
Overcapacity of the fishing fleet has been widely identified as one of the main
Knowing the CFP was due for reform, and in light of the known problems, the Court
decided to examine EU measures to reduce overcapacity or in the terms of the CFP
legislation we examined the EU measures to adapt the capacity of its fishing fleets
to available fishing opportunities.
The 7 Member States we visited (Denmark, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Portugal,
and the UK) together represent about 70% of EU fish catches and fleet capacity, and
80% of EU funding, giving us a good overview of the global situation of the
overcapacity in the EU.
Moving on to the main conclusions:
The Court made conclusions under two main categories. The first relates to the policy
framework for the reduction of overcapacity, and the second relates to the design and
implementation of specific measures to reduce overcapacity.
There are three main points I would like to highlight concerning the policy
First, there was inadequate measurement of "capacity" and "overcapacity". The CFP
measures vessel capacity in terms of power and size. These measures do not take into
Second, fleet capacity ceilings, as a measure to restrict the size of the fishing fleet,
have become irrelevant. The CFP sets capacity ceilings in terms of power and size on
the fishing fleets. However the ceilings are no longer relevant as the actual fleet size
is well under the ceilings. In fact the fleet could be 200,000 tonnes bigger and still
comply with the rules.
The third point concerns the treatment of fishing rights. The CFP does not have
sufficiently clear rules for the treatment of fishing rights when fishing vessels are
scrapped with public aid. In fact the CFP gives contradictory signals on the subject:
the basic Council Regulation, since 2002, provides for the withdrawal of fishing
rights for such vessels, but the Regulations which set annual quotas allow for the
reallocation of these rights in some cases1.
Some Member States (Denmark, Spain) allow fishers to sell their fishing rights,
whereas others (France, Poland) forbid it. Sale of fishing rights of scrapped vessels
provides extra resources to fishers to help them to restructure their remaining fishing
activities, or to pursue other interests. The CFP Regulations do not say how such
cases should be treated when public aid is paid for scrapping the vessel.
More fundamentally, the role of transferable fishing rights in addressing fleet
Furthermore, I would like to mention an interesting study prepared for the European
Parliament "Tools for fishing management" in 2010, which identified similar issues
to those raised by our own report.
There are seven points I would like to highlight concerning specific measures to
First, there were delays in the implementation of the European Fisheries Fund by
Member States1. By the end of 2010, half way through the programme, only 645
Mio (15%) of the available amount of 4.3 billion have been used.
Second, Member State's2 Operational Programme objectives for reducing capacity
were not sufficiently justified by reference to the state of fish stocks. Also, there were
problems with Fishing Effort Adjustment Plans3 (FEAP), which is the main
mechanism for targeting aid for decommissioning fishing vessels. For example, their
required content or minimum capacity reduction objectives were not defined.
Third, although investments on board which increase fishing ability are not eligible
for public funding, we found that in practice such investments can be funded for
example, by funding better propulsion systems which enable fishing vessels to fish
any impact on the targeted fish stocks. In some cases public aid was paid for fishing
vessels which were already inactive, or for vessels which caught insignificant
quantities of the targeted fish stocks.
It is noteworthy that the Commission, in its very recent proposal for a new Maritime
and Fisheries Fund, has concluded that addressing overcapacity through public aid
for scrapping has proven ineffective, despite the fact that since 1994 1,7 billion euro
has been spent on this specific measure.
Sixth, the "Fuel Crisis Regulation" (No. 744/2008) had insufficient and unforeseen
results. This Regulation was intended to grant public funding at higher rates for
scrapping and modernising vessels, in response to the severe hikes in fuel prices in
2008. The Court found that some Member States1 liberally interpreted its eligibility
requirements, and did not obtain anticipated fleet capacity savings. For example,
indirect public funding for the construction and importation of fishing vessels was
Finally, the Court found that the CFP's rules under which Member States report on
their efforts to reduce fishing overcapacity are inadequate. Furthermore, most
Member States do not prepare adequate reports and often do not use use available
· set effective fleet capacity limits;
· improve the targeting of FEAP's;
· clarify the role of fishing right transfer schemes;
· re consider the aid scheme for modernising vessels;
· improve the quality of the fleet register, and reporting of efforts to balance
fishing capacity with fishing opportunities.
The Report recommends that Member States:
· implement the European Fisheries Fund on time;
· ensure that any publicly funded investments on board do not increase fishing
· keep the fishing fleet register up to date;
· better target their fishing vessel decommissioning schemes;
Thank you for your attention and I am now at your disposal to answer any questions
you may have.