SLI-Report 2006:3

A Policy for the Fish or the Fishermen?

Authors: Fredrik Andersson 

This report studies the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy of the European Union (CFP), that was negotiated in 2002. The European Commission presented in spring 2002 a proposal of changes in the CFP to address the apprehension that the vast majority of the fish stocks in the EU waters were regarded as being over exploited. The set-up of the analysis in this report is a game with three levels (Putnamn, 1988). The levels are the national level, the EU level and the international level. 

In the preparatory work of the reform, the Commission came to the conclusion that different goals within the CFP were in conflict. Financial support to the fishing industry with the purpose to increase fleet efficiency counteracted with the goals of the conservation policy of a sustainable fishery. Therefore, the Commission presented a reform where they, among other things, proposed changes in the public financial supports to the fishing industry.

In the negotiations of the reform, two groups of EU members were formed.  One group, called the “friends of the fisheries”, with the majority of countries coming from the southern part or EU (South), strongly opposed part of the reform proposal. The criticism mainly focused on the proposed changes in the structural policy. One group with countries from the northern part of EU (North) was, on the whole, positive to the Commission’s proposal.

The position of South resulted in a reform of the CFP that were not as fundamental as the first proposition of the Commission and hence, as the Commission regarded as necessary for a sustainable fishery. Critics from North described the final reform as a failure and Sweden and Germany made reservations against the decision. 

The aim of this report is to increase the understanding of the different positions taken by South and North. Therefore, the underlying factors for the positions of the member states in the negotiations of the CFP are analysed. One important conclusion is that the opposite positions of South and North do not arise from different attitudes towards the conservation policy but from different attitudes towards the fishing industry. North attach less importance at the fishing industry compared to environmental concerns, and South attach equal weight to environmental concerns and the fishing industry.


Fredrik Andersson

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