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Saturday, 3 August 2013

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF): Investing in a sustainable future

The Council of Agriculture and Fisheries has backed new criteria for fisheries fund allocations. The new system will support compliance with the reformed Common Fisheries Policy and in particular with the objective of increased sustainability. EMFF will be used to co-finance projects alongside national funding streams. The European Commission has welcomed the general approach agreed on July 15, 2013, by the Council on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) running from 2014-2020.

Discussions with the European Parliament will take place in the autumn in view of an agreement on the funding instrument by the end of the year. This is crucial for the fund to run in parallel with the implementation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as of January 2014. The general approach agreed by Council, the first chaired by the Lithuanian presidency, highlights the investment priorities for projects underpinning the CFP. It continues the progress made under the previous funding programme - the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) - and strengthens support for the sustainable development of the fisheries and aquaculture sector.

Under the current EFF, the allocation distributed to Member States followed a cohesion approach: it took into account the Gross Domestic Product of each Member States privileging those countries with a lower GDP.

For the new EMFF, whose aim is to accompany the implementation of the CFP Reform rather than to support regional development, the Commission has proposed to base the allocation of resources on a sectorial approach.

This will be based on a criteria including employment and production in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, as well as the share of small scale coastal fishing in the fishing fleet.

These new criteria will promote a level playing field among fishermen from all Member States and ensure proportional shares of the EMFF are attributed to both the fisheries and aquaculture sectors of each Member State

Each Member States will be allocated a share of the total budget, before drawing up an operational programme, specifying how it intends to spend the money allocated. Once the Commission approves this programme, it is up to the national authorities to decide which projects will be funded. The national authorities and the Commission will be jointly responsible for the implementation of the programmes.

The current proposal would strengthen investment in intensifying and improving data collection, to the tune of an extra 50% compared to the figure for 2007-13, in order to create a wider knowledge base and allow European policy makers to make decisions on the basis of robust evidence.

The EMFF will also increase its investment into control programmes to 482m EUR which is again over a 50% increase compared to the previous fund. 

The Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, particularly highlighted the increased investment into small scale fisheries as a source for future growth and an example of the impact which the fund will have: "Small scale fisheries are crucial to the sustainable future and success of the industry. They hold the greatest potential for innovation and are most in need of support to adapt which is why I am delighted that the