The seed of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was contained already in the Rome Treaty from 1957, under Article 38. But it took ten years before any main principles for a joint policy were outlined and the Commission’s DG FISH (now DG MARE – The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) was created in 1976.
The policy we know today, consisting of four main sections dealing with resource management, markets, structural policy and external aspects, did not materialise until 1983. Resource management was the last policy area to be added. In the basic regulation outlined in 1983, a ten year reform cycle was created, with particular articles to be reviewed. The ongoing reform is therefore the third reform of the policy, preceded by the 1992 and 2002 reforms.
That process began in earnest in 2008 with the release of a Commission Working Document, providing a stark overview of the current state of affairs and a promise to leave no stone unturned. This was followed in April 2009 by the Green Paper, launching a public consultation concluding at the end of the year. In 2010, the responses were analysed and further input received from different stakeholders. We are now awaiting the adoption of the Commission proposals for what is being called the CFP reform package. The Commissioner recently said that will happen on 13 July 2011.
The previous reform of the CFP, concluded in 2002, also began with ambitions for far-reaching changes putting an end to some of the underlying problems of the policy. It did bring about more long-term management of some EU fish stocks, strengthened the environmental components of the CFP, formed the basis for setting up the Regional Advisory Councils to improve stakeholder involvement, and marked an end to subsidies for new-builds and capacity-increasing modernisation measures.
However, this was far from enough and it did not bring about the fundamental changes that were needed in order to make the CFP more successful. The fleet policy component was particularly weak and non-transparent, with its new entry/exit scheme and the concurrent failures in national reporting.