A two-day long intensive negotiation finished this very morning with the difficult political compromise reached by EU Fisheries ministers on the catch limits for 2020. This agreement reconciles to objective to secure healthy stocks with the need to ensure the socio-economic sustainability of the EU fleet. The latter was acknowledged by the Council which, after a predominantly conservationist proposal from the European Commission, adopted a better-balanced decision in light of the socio-economic data provided by Member States. The industry will however face many challenges for next year due to the extreme quota reductions and restrictive measures adopted for key species such as cod in all EU waters.
This week, the Council adopted a regulation setting autonomous EU tariff quotas (ATQs) for certain fishery products for the years 2019 and 2020. The ATQ regulation covers species such as tuna, Alaska pollack, cod or flatfish for which a relatively high volume can be imported from non-EU countries at a reduced or zero-duty tariff. Up to 750.000 tonnes of fish will benefit from this scheme and will enter the European markets regardless of their origin, way of production, sustainability of the stock, labour standards or even if the third country has been identified by the EU for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Europêche believes that, in many cases, ATQs serve the sole purpose of getting a better price from non-EU producers, while putting pressure on EU producers’ prices and employment.