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22.1.  Economic and legal framework of the EU fisheries policy

  1. The 200 mile rule and EU's fisheries policy
  2. Free access to fishing zones in the EU

The market in fishery products is similar to that in agricultural products. This is why Title III of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU treats together agriculture and fisheries. It stipulates that by agricultural products is meant products of the soil, of stockfarming and of fisheries and that the use of the term "agricultural" shall be understood as also referring to fisheries, having regard to the specific characteristics of this sector (Article 38 TFEU, ex Article 32 TEC).

However, the Treaty of Rome on the EEC placed fisheries policy and the Common Agricultural Policy in the same basket and the two were initially one and the same. More precisely, the organisation of the market and structural policy covering fisheries formed part of the common agricultural policy. There is however a basic difference between products of the soil and stock-farming on the one hand and fisheries products on the other. Whereas the first two remain within the boundaries laid down by man, fish have no respect for frontiers! Migratory fish, such as herring and tuna, do not have to show their passports when they enter the economic zone of a Member State! There are therefore problems relating to fisheries resources, which simply do not exist for products of the soil and stock farming. This is the first reason why a specific common policy was required for fisheries products. This specificity is now acknowledged by the Treaty on the functioning of the EU, which speaks about a common agricultural policy and a common fisheries policy (Article 43 TFEU)

The second justification for a common fisheries policy is specific to this sector. Between 1956 and 1965, world fish production rose by 50%. Investments over this period of economic growth, vessel modernisation and higher productivity pushed up catches to such a high level that stock replenishment was threatened and the commoner species, such as herring, began to be exhausted. In times of surplus, storage aid, export subsidies and import restrictions were required. In times of shortage, on the other hand, it was necessary to regulate and monitor fishing to ensure that the seas fished by the Member States did not become empty of fish. All of this had to be achieved at Community level, if the aim was a common fisheries market.

Europe has a 70 000 km coastline along two oceans and four seas: the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, the Baltic, the North Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea. The EU's maritime regions account for some 40% of its GDP and population. Europe's well-being is therefore inextricably linked with the sea. Shipbuilding and shipping, ports and fisheries remain key maritime activities, but offshore energy (including oil, gas and renewables), and coastal and maritime tourism also generate massive revenues. The growing vulnerability of coastal areas, increasingly crowded coastal waters, the key role of the oceans in the climate system and the continuous deterioration of the marine environment all call for a sustainable marine environment. The European Commission has recognised this, and launched a comprehensive consultation and analysis of how Europe relates to the sea [COM/2006/275 and COM/2007/574]. It has triggered a massive response from stakeholders that has provided a wealth of ideas as to how Europe can rise to meet this challenge.

Building on this input the Commission proposed an integrated maritime policy for the European Union, based on the clear recognition that all matters relating to Europe's oceans and seas are interlinked, and that sea-related policies must develop in a joined-up way [COM/2007/575]. The strategic objectives of the IMP, agreed by the European Parliament and the Council, include: integrated maritime governance at all levels; the further development and implementation of integrated sea-basin strategies tailored to the specific needs of Europe's different sea basins; the further development of synergies and coordination between existing policies and instruments; the closer involvement of stakeholders in integrated maritime governance schemes; the protection and sustainable use of marine and coastal resources; and the definition of the boundaries of the sustainability of human activities and the protection of the marine and coastal environment and biodiversity in the framework of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive [Directive 2008/56, last amended by Directive 2017/845], which constitutes the environmental pillar of the IMP [see section 16.3.3]. The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund supports the further development of the integrated maritime policy [Regulation 508/2014, last amended by Regulation 2015/895, see section 22.4]. A Directive establishes a framework for maritime spatial planning aimed at promoting the sustainable growth of maritime economies, the sustainable development of marine areas and the sustainable use of marine resources [Directive 2014/89].

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Your roadmap in the maze of the European Union.

Based on the book of Nicholas Moussis:
Access to European Union law, economics, policies
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Translated into 14 languages


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