27.4.2007   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 93/31


Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the Proposal for a Council Regulation introducing a scheme to compensate for the additional costs incurred in the marketing of certain fishery products from the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, and the French departments of Guiana and Réunion from 2007 to 2013

COM(2006) 740 final — 2006/0247 (CNS)

(2007/C 93/07)

On 18 December 2006 the Council decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Articles 37 and 299 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the abovementioned proposal.

On 12 December 2006 the Committee Bureau instructed the Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment to prepare the Committee's work on the subject.

Given the urgent nature of the work, the European Economic and Social Committee appointed Mr Sarró Iparraguirre as rapporteur-general at its 432nd plenary session, held on 17 and 18 January 2007 (meeting of 17 January), and adopted the following opinion by 81 votes to 3 with 7 abstentions.

1.   Conclusions and recommendations

1.1

The EESC endorses the Commission's proposal for a Regulation introducing a scheme to compensate for the additional costs incurred in the marketing of certain fishery products from the outermost regions of the EU from 2007 to 2013.

1.2

The EESC recommends that the Commission clarify the scope of this compensation with regard to fishing vessels flying the Venezuelan flag and operating in Community waters.

2.   Introduction

2.1

Since 1992, the European Union has provided support to the producers of fishery products in the outermost regions in order to offset the extra costs of transporting those products to European markets.

2.2

In 2003, the Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 2328/2003 introducing a scheme to compensate for the additional costs incurred in the marketing of certain fishery products from the following regions:

Azores

Madeira

Canary Islands

French Guiana

Réunion.

2.3

Regulation (EC) No 2328/2003 expires on 31 December 2006. As called for therein, the Commission has put forward a new Regulation proposing a longer period of application (from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2013) and with an annual budget of EUR 15 million (the same as the previous budget).

2.4

On 29 October 2003, the EESC issued an opinion (1) in favour of Regulation (EC) No 2328/2003, in which various recommendations were made.

3.   General comments

3.1

The Commission's current proposal was provided for in the previous Regulation, which required the Commission to submit, by 1 January 2007, a first report accompanied by proposals for any measures needed to achieve the compensation objectives for outermost regions which market fishery products on the European mainland.

3.2

The measures introduced by the Commission in the new Regulation take into account the consultations of interested parties and regional administrations, together with the conclusions of an external study on the structural aspects of the Common Fisheries Policy in the outermost regions, and the recommendations made by the European Parliament and the EESC.

3.3

On the basis of these principles and having analysed all the measures proposed by the Commission, the EESC endorses the new Regulation submitted to it.

4.   Specific comments

4.1

The proposal for the continuation of the compensation scheme introduces a higher degree of subsidiarity, as it leaves the determination of eligible products, quantities and compensation amounts to the Member States.

4.2

It is therefore easier for Member States to adjust their compensation plans, within the overall financial allocation, if justified by changing conditions.

4.3

Submission and acceptance procedures have been updated so as to minimise the administrative burden for Member States' national and regional authorities and the Commission services. The proposal therefore falls within the Commission's rolling programme for the simplification of Community legislation.

4.4

The total amount of compensation per year must not exceed:

a)

Azores and Madeira --------------------------

EUR 4 283 992

b)

Canary Islands --------------------------------

EUR 5 844 076

c)

French Guiana and Réunion ----------------

EUR 4 868 700

4.5

For the period 2007-2013 an annual budget of around EUR 15 million is envisaged (the same as for the previous period), covered by the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund.

4.6

These changes in relation to the previous regulation are in line with the recommendations made by the EESC in its earlier opinion, and the EESC therefore endorses them.

4.7

Support is limited to fishery products harvested and processed in accordance with the rules governing the Common Fisheries Policy.

4.8

The list of fishery products not eligible for compensation specifically excludes those caught by ‘fishing vessels that fly the flag of Venezuela and operate in Community waters’. The EESC believes that if any agreement between the EU and Venezuela allows vessels from that country to benefit from the proposed compensation scheme then this should be expressly stated, and mention should be made of the Community waters in the outermost region in which the country's fishery products are eligible for said compensation.

4.9

Lastly, each Member State is to submit an annual report on the implementation of compensation, and the Commission is to submit a report, before 31 December 2011, to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee on this implementation, accompanied, if necessary, by legislative proposals.

Brussels, 17 January 2007.

The President

of the European Economic and Social Committee

Dimitris DIMITRIADIS


(1)  CESE 1396/2003. OJ C 32 of 5.2.2004.