At 3.40 negotiations in Luxembourg concluded between EU ministers, who agreed to a compromise package on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) by a qualified majority. The details of the agreement have yet to be published, but the Council agreement allows for 15% of the funds member states can access through the EMFF to be used for fleet restructuring until 2017. Significant increased funding for aquaculture has also been put forward, along with measures to improve control, data collection, selectivity and move toward low impact fishing techniques.
During discussions that went long into the night, several ministers stated that they were at the brink of their negotiating mandate before a deal was struck. Subsidies for vessel modernisation, temporary cessation, aquaculture and building new vessels, all of which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, were called for as the majority in Council sought to water down several of the progressive proposals put forward by the Commission. Germany, the UK, Sweden and Denmark all voiced concerns with the direction of the general approach, however, a compromise solution was found.
At the press conference, Mr.Aletraris who chaired the meeting for the Cypriot Presidency, stated that “nearly all Member States” supported the general approach, but it is not yet known which countries opted out.
Commissioner Damanaki was forthright in her position toward the general approach, emphasising that “the Commission’s proposal is still on the table. It is a more ambitious proposal, we are going to discuss this….after the decision of the Parliament through the trilateral approach.” She further stressed that the fund needed to support sustainable policies to reach the MSY target.