In April 2018 the European Commission released a Roadmap for its evaluation of the Eel Regulation. Since then, two public consultations have been carried out, in parallel with an external evaluation of regulation and its national implementation. Conclusions were expected early this year, but has now been delayed until after the summer.
The ongoing evaluation is set to help the Commission decide whether to review the regulation or focus on improving implementation. An initial Roadmap provided background on the issue and explained the process and focus for the evaluation. It was the first step of a process that may take several years, particularly since elections for the European Parliament and the College of Commissioners are taking place this year, slowing the regulatory processes considerably.
The evaluation process, consisting of three parts: an external evaluation of the management framework, an ICES assessment of the biological aspects and a Commission review of the use of public funds to support implementation, started in April 2018. The final report was expected in the first quarter of 2019. However, considering the importance and the wide scope, the Commission decided to allow additional time.
The evaluation is now in its final stages and is likely to be published after the summer. At the conference organised by the Sustainable Eel Group in London on 27-28 June, Katarzyna Janiak from DG MARE was not able to say very much about the conclusions, but notably restocking targets have not been met and there has been no significant reduction in non-fisheries anthropogenic threats, such as migration barriers.
Once the evaluation has been finalised, the Commission will need to decide whether the eel regulation needs to be revised, or whether it is a matter of improving implementation – or both. The Commission is also considering the scope for increased international cooperation.
First evaluation found significant delays
This is the second EU evaluation since the regulation came into force in September 2007. The previous evaluation took place after the first national progress reports were submitted in 2012 and a report was presented to the Council and European Parliament in 2014.
It concluded that the status of the European eel remained critical and that the implementation of the Eel Regulation had suffered significant delays. It also found that most of the management measures taken were related to fisheries, whereas other measures such as improving habitats or controlling predators and parasites had been postponed or only partially implemented; something that seemed to be re-iterated by Ms Janiak at the conference.
When this second evaluation report is finalised, the Commission will make its decision on the way forward, probably including an Impact Assessment of potential measures. If the regulation needs to be revised, this is a longer process with proposals for amendments that will need to be discussed and agreed between the Council and the European Parliament.
Council Regulation (EC) No 1100/2007 of 18 September 2007 establishing measures for the recovery of the stock of European eel