Social partners say new fund offers room for improvement
By Sophie Petitjean | Friday 13 April 2012
The draft regulation establishing the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) is a step in the right direction, although certain changes are needed, argue the European social partners from the fisheries sector in an opinion on the social dimension of the new fund, adopted on 10 April.
The Committee on Social Sectoral Dialogue for Maritime Fisheries – made up, on the workers’ side, of the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and on the employers’ side of Europêche, the association of national organisations of fishing enterprises in the EU, and the General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives (Cogeca) – rejects the idea of investments being limited to only one investment on board. It also underlines the need for greater support for young people, fishermen faced with temporary cessation of activities and those affected by incidents, such as oil spills.
On 2 December 2011, the European Commission proposed to consolidate into a single fund five financial instruments of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) for the period 2014-2020. The new fund will have a budget of €6.5 billion, plus another €916 million to finance external fisheries agreements and obligations resulting from EU participation in international fisheries organisations. Of the €6.5 billion, €1 billion will be earmarked for the IMP, while at constant value fisheries will have little more than what is available under the current European Fisheries Fund (EFF), ie €4.3 billion.
Generally speaking, the sectoral committee acknowledges the Commission’s effort to include among actions eligible for co-financing by the future fund the promotion of human capital and social dialogue, job creation and health and safety aboard vessels. On the latter point, the social partners nevertheless find that the proposal’s limit of just one investment on board for the entire programming period is “too restrictive […] and will not contribute substantially to making fishing vessels safer or improving the sector’s image”.
On employment, the social partners voice concerns about the absence of provisions concerning the co-financing of aid measures for temporary cessation (biological closures) of fishing activities for fishermen and fishing vessel owners, as laid down in Article 24 of the European Fisheries Fund. The proposal should also make it easier to create jobs in the sector, especially for young people. It should also contain provisions for the co-financing of training actions for fishermen forced to leave the sector due to fleet reduction. More broadly, the social partners invite the Commission to clarify the concept of ‘self-employed and salaried fishermen’ so as to determine those who can benefit from the different EMFF measures.