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Governance in the European Union: Policies

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  1. Introduction.
  2. General features of the common fisheries policy.
    1. The 1983 council regulation.
    2. Objectives of the policy.
    3. The 1992 planned reform.
    4. The creation of Regional Advisory Councils.
    5. Three characteristic principles.
  3. Liberal intergovernmental decision-making: fixing of TACs and quotas.
    1. The example of the annual fixing of quotas and TACs.
    2. The Council regulation.
    3. The national preferences and the two factors.
  4. The implication of environmental non-governmental organisations: A new form of decision-making?
    1. The environmental consequences of the fisheries activities.
    2. Spain as an important fishing country.
  5. The analysis of the policy and its performance.
  6. Conclusion.
  7. Bibliography.

The Common Fisheries Policy is one of the oldest policies entirely delegated to the European Community since it is part of the Common agricultural policy. Indeed, in the Treaty of Rome, agricultural products are defined as ?the products of the soil, of stock-farming and of fisheries? (Art. 32 TEC). As a result, the fisheries policy has to follow the same objectives as the CAP, i.e. to increase productivity, to ensure a fair standard of living, to stabilise markets, to assure the availability of supplies and to ensure that supplies reach consumers at reasonable prices (Art. 33 TEC). However, if these objectives could be reached in agriculture through the creation of a common organisation of markets, in fisheries this would not have been enough. This is due to a certain specificity of the sector: it is based on common and mobile resources. It is obvious that certain species overlap territorial seas' limits and this biological fact explains why a supranational management of fisheries was needed, different from agriculture, and not only regulating a market but also the conditions of production . It is only in 1983 that a complete Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is launched?and immediately some controversies appeared.

[...] They all complained though that they were asked to give an opinion on the fishing opportunities for 2007 before any proposal of the European Commission. They also regretted that this schedule problem prevents the EC to take account of social-economic factors in its proposal, since it can only be based on scientific advice. The outcome, however, must have been welcomed by the majority of RAC's members. The question now is to know how it is possible to have such a blatant denial of scientific expertise, especially when environmental matters are shown as one of the main priorities of the CFP. [...]

[...] (eds.) (2005) Policy-making in the European Union, Oxford University Press, fifth edition WWF-UK, Driftnet ban, available at: (October 2007) Legislation Council Regulation (EEC) No. 100/76 of 19 January 1976 on the common organization of the market in fishery products Council Regulation (EEC) No. 170/83 establishing a Community system for the conservation and management of fishery resources Council Regulation (EEC) No. 3094/86 of 7 October 1986 providing for certain fishery resources conservation technical measures Case C-216/87 The Queen v Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, ex parte Jaderow [1989] Case C-246/89 Commission of the European Communities v United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland [1989] UN Resolution A/RES/46/215, Large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing and its impact on the living marine resources of the world's oceans and seas Council Regulation No. [...]

[...] In return, the EU can negotiate agreements with third countries so that European fishermen can access their zones. Then in 1983 the Council regulation 170/83, officially establishing the Common fisheries policy, underlined the focus on conservation and management of resources, two objectives that are still the basis of today's policy. The main instruments of conservation were the setting of Total Allowable Catches (TAC) and quotas (article limiting the catches of certain species and in certain seas. The single use of TACs and quotas is not enough since it encourages fishermen to fish until the quotas are met and not until they think it is sufficient so various technical conservation regulations were gradually added, such as the ban of drift-nets (we will come back to it later), the establishment of closed areas, of minimum catches sizes Also some structural agreements have been set up, the Multi- Annual Guidance Programmes (MAGP), aiming to reduce fishing efforts (gradual fleet withdrawals or restrictions of days at sea). [...]

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