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Document 52014DC0738

REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION SEVENTH ANNUAL REPORT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EUROPEAN FISHERIES FUND (2013)

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52014DC0738

REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION SEVENTH ANNUAL REPORT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EUROPEAN FISHERIES FUND (2013) /* COM/2014/0738 final */


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1........... INTRODUCTION....................................................................................................... 1

2........... OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF EFF IMPLEMENTATION..................................... 1

2.1........ Financial implementation of the EFF by the Member States....................................... 1

2.2........ Main areas of intervention for the EFF........................................................................ 3

2.3........ Evolution per priority axis............................................................................................ 3

2.4........ Budget implementation by the Commission................................................................. 4

2.5........ Use of technical assistance by the Member States....................................................... 5

2.6........ Use of technical assistance by the Commission............................................................ 5

2.6.1..... Information technology................................................................................................ 5

2.6.2..... Support Unit for the European Fisheries Areas Network............................................. 5

2.6.3..... Studies.......................................................................................................................... 5

2.6.4..... Non-permanent staff..................................................................................................... 5

2.7........ Coordination of the EFF with the Structural Funds and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)................................................................................................ 6

2.8........ Preparatory work for the programming period 2014-2020: the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund    6

3........... ASSESSMENT OF EFF IMPLEMENTATION PER AXIS...................................... 6

3.1........ Axis 1............................................................................................................................ 6

3.1.1..... Economic performance of EU fishing fleet in 2012 (based on Annual Economic Report 2014 – data 2012)...................................................................................................................................... 6

3.1.2..... Permanent cessation of fishing operations.................................................................... 6

3.1.3..... Temporary cessation of fishing operations................................................................... 7

3.1.4..... Investments on board fishing vessels and selectivity................................................... 7

3.1.5..... Socio-economic compensation for the management of the fishing fleet...................... 7

3.2........ Axis 2............................................................................................................................ 7

3.2.1..... Inland fisheries............................................................................................................. 7

3.2.2..... Aquaculture.................................................................................................................. 7

3.2.3..... Processing..................................................................................................................... 8

3.3........ Axis 3............................................................................................................................ 9

3.3.1..... Fishing ports, landing sites and shelters....................................................................... 9

3.3.2..... Development of new markets and promotional campaigns.......................................... 9

3.3.3..... Pilot operations............................................................................................................. 9

3.4........ Axis 4............................................................................................................................ 9

4........... First set of operational conclusions on the EFF for the period 2007-2013................ 10

REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION

SEVENTH ANNUAL REPORT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EUROPEAN FISHERIES FUND (2013)

1.           INTRODUCTION

In line with Article 68 of the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) Regulation[1], by 31 December each year the Commission must forward to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions a report on how the EFF is being implemented. The report is based on an examination and assessment by the Commission of the Member States’ annual reports and on any other available information. It also includes an analysis of the implementation of some key EFF measures.

The accompanying Commission staff working document includes a summary of EFF implementation in each Member State as well as five tables with detailed information on financial execution[2]. As per the Regulation, it also provides a summary of the audits on management and control systems set up by the Member States that are carried out on behalf of the Commission and a summary of the outcome of audits on EFF assistance carried out by the Member States, where appropriate showing the financial corrections made.

This report presents an overall assessment of EFF implementation by the Member States and by the Commission during 2013, which is the final year of programming. In some cases data provided by Member States were sufficient for a more extensive analysis up until 31 May 2014, thus providing a more comprehensive picture of the current implementation of the EFF less than two years before the deadline for EFF implementation on the ground (31 December 2015).

2.           OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF EFF IMPLEMENTATION

2.1.        Financial implementation of the EFF by the Member States

Certified interim payments sent by Member States in 2013 totalled EUR 544 million, compared to EUR 589 million in 2012. By 31 May 2014, EFF commitments amounted to EUR 3.413 billion. This represents an increase of 18 % over 31 May 2013 (EUR 515 million in one year). 

The public national contribution up to 31 May 2014 was EUR 2.088 billion, which represents an increase of EUR 360 million over 31 May 2013 (+21 %). These figures show a significant acceleration of national commitments over the previous twelve months, which could indicate that Member States are starting to overcome the difficulties created by the fiscal consolidation period.

Over the same period, private contributions to EFF-supported measures amounted to EUR 2 497 billion. Private contributions can mainly be found in processing (42.67 %), aquaculture (23.25 %) and investments on board (9.68 %). Together, these measures account for 75 % of the total private funding.

In total, investments into the fishery and aquaculture sector for the period from 1 January 2007 to 31 May 2014 amounted to EUR 8 billion: 42.67 % from the EFF, 26.11 % from national public contributions and 31.22 % from private funding.

In terms of the leverage effect, every euro of EFF support committed generates EUR 1.34 of committed national support, EUR 0.732 of private funding and EUR 0.612 of national public contribution[3]. Rules concerning aid intensity and co-financing determine to a large extent such leverage effect, but not entirely. For example, aid intensity and co-financing rates are the same for aquaculture, processing and marketing; and even if the national public contribution is similar, private contributions are much higher in processing.

The table below shows leverage effects per axis and categories of measures:

Measures || Leverage effect of EUR 1 in

Total (public + private) national funding(EUR) || National public funding (EUR) || Private contribution funding (EUR)

1.1: Permanent cessation of fishing activities || 0.711 || 0.705 || 0.006

1.2: Temporary cessation of fishing activities || 0.646 || 0.646 || 0.000

1.3: Investments on board fishing vessels and selectivity || 3.257 || 0.777 || 2.480

1.4: Small-scale coastal fishing || 0.655 || 0.429 || 0.227

1.5: Socio-economic compensation for the management of the fleet || 1.482 || 0.656 || 0.827

2.1: Aquaculture || 1.613 || 0.435 || 1.179

2.2. Inland fishing || 1.503 || 0.447 || 1.056

2.3. Fish processing and marketing || 2.503 || 0.542 || 1.961

3.1: Collective actions || 1.152 || 0.930 || 0.221

3.2: Protection and development of aquatic fauna and flora || 0.652 || 0.558 || 0.094

3.3: Fishing ports, landing sites and shelters || 0.756 || 0.611 || 0.145

3.4: Development of new markets and promotional campaigns || 0.702 || 0.566 || 0.137

3.5: Pilot operations || 1.300 || 0.912 || 0.389

3.6: Modification for reassignment of fishing vessels || 4.204 || 1.567 || 2.637

4.1: Development of fisheries areas || 1.153 || 0.441 || 0.712

5.1: Technical assistance || 0.483 || 0.480 || 0.003

Total || 1.344 || 0.612 || 0.732

The most significant leverage effects can be found in measures supporting modification for reassignment of fishing vessels, investments on board fishing vessels, fish processing and aquaculture. With regard to national public contributions, the leverage effects are greatest in relation to measures supporting modification for reassignment of fishing vessels, collective actions, pilot operations and investment on board fishing vessels. With regard to private sector co-financing, the most significant leverage effects relate to modification for reassignment of fishing vessels, investments on board fishing vessels, fish processing and marketing, aquaculture and inland fishing.

The above aggregated leverage effect is below the EUR 1.67 resulting from the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) (2000-2006)[4], of which EUR 0.56 was public national support and EUR 1.11 was private support.

2.2.        Main areas of intervention for the EFF

The table below compares the levels of commitments for the five most used measures by the end of July 2012, May 2013 and May 2014, respectively:

31 July 2012 || 31 May 2013 || 31 May 2014

Permanent cessation (19.61 %) || Processing (17.41 %) || Processing (16.65 %)

Aquaculture (12.98 %) || Permanent cessation (17.25 %) || Permanent cessation (15.44 %)

Processing (12.79 %) || Aquaculture (14.83 %) || Aquaculture (14.43 %)

Fishing ports (10.89 %) || Fishing ports (11.46 %) || Fishing ports (11.61 %)

Temporary cessation (7.67 %) || Temporary cessation (7.40 %) || Development of fisheries areas (9.25 %)

The situation at 31 May 2014 was substantially the same as the year before, with the exception of Axis 4[5], which saw improvement of almost 30 % between May 2013 and May 2014. However, as explained below, Axis 4 is still lagging behind the rest.

The concentration of EFF commitments on these five measures is quite high (67.39 %); however, the figure for 31 May 2014 shows a modest decline compared with the same figure the year before (68.86 %). Leaving aside the progress made with Axis 4, such a (modest) change could indicate that other measures are attracting more commitments than in previous years.

It should be noted that out of these five areas, permanent cessation is the one measure which is steadily decreasing in importance (-21.5 %). The same applies to temporary cessation, which represented 6.76 % of commitments by 31 May 2014 (-12 % compared to 31 July 2012). This trend could indicate that traditional fleet measures are losing importance.

2.3.        Evolution per priority axis

The table below shows the evolution of the relative importance of total commitments per priority axis for the period from July 2012 to May 2014.

The table confirms the relative decline of Axis 1 (-16 %) and the quick progress made in respect of Axis 4. Axis 3 is also progressing, although at a slower pace. By 31 May 2014, Axis 2 was the most important one; this corresponds to the original allocation of the EFF funding.  

Priority Axis || 31 July 2012 || 31 May 2013 || 31 May 2014

Axis 1 || 33.05 % || 30.42 % || 27.77 %

Axis 2 || 28.96 % || 32.64 % || 31.44 %

Axis 3 || 27.59 % || 27.38 % || 28.46 %

Axis 4 || 7.1 % || 7.2 % || 9.25 %

Axis 5 || 3.29 % || 2.42 % || 3.07 %

The table below shows the relation between actual commitments and planned expenditure for the programming period per priority axis.

Priority Axis || 31 July 2012 || 31 May 2013 || 31 May 2014

Axis 1 || 67.24 % || 74.36 % || 79.61 %

Axis 2 || 56.6 % || 77.47 % || 86.77 %

Axis 3 || 57.8 % || 67.31 % || 83.80 %

Axis 4 || 28 % || 44.60 % || 56.89 %

Axis 5 || 44.04 % || 44.60 % || 65.34 %

Total EFF || 56.31 % || 67.37 % || 79.33 %

By 31 May 2014, only 79 % of the EFF had been committed. Despite an acceleration since July 2012, a significant part of the EFF has not been committed yet, which, as in the case of certified payments, is a cause of some concern considering that the final date for eligibility of expenditure is 31 December 2015.

Axes 2 and 3 are the most advanced in terms of commitments, with Axis 2 being the one progressing the most in the reference period. Rapid progress has been made with Axis 4, but it still lags behind.

2.4.        Budget implementation by the Commission

In 2013, in terms of annual commitments, 16.4 % (EUR 691.5 million) of the total appropriations for the period 2007-2013 were committed, comprising EUR 528.35 million  for convergence and EUR 163.15 million for non-convergence regions.

 In 2013, in terms of payments, 12.7 % (EUR 546.78 million) of the total appropriations were paid, comprising 78.9 % for convergence (EUR 431.35 million) and 21.1 % for non-convergence regions (EUR 115.43 million). These payments were made in the form of pre-financing (for Croatia) and interim payments. Detailed information is provided in Annex 1 and in the accompanying staff working document.

2.5.        Use of technical assistance by the Member States

In 2013, 21 Member States committed amounts under the technical assistance budget (Axis 5). The larger amounts were committed by the Netherlands (58.3 % of the EFF funds allocated to Axis 5), Slovenia (51.6 %), the United Kingdom (51.2 %), Portugal (38 %), Poland (15.75 %) and Spain (10.9 %). Actions financed included strengthening administrative capacity, IT development, publicity and information, as well as supporting the management and implementation of the operational programmes.

2.6.        Use of technical assistance by the Commission

In 2013, the Commission committed EUR 3.48 million of the technical assistance budget for the following:

2.6.1.     Information technology

EUR 0.35 million for computer equipment and services related to the maintenance and development of the Commission’s information systems necessary for EFF implementation.

2.6.2.     Support Unit for the European Fisheries Areas Network

EUR 2.74 million for the FARNET Support Unit. In 2013, FARNET continued to play a major role in the implementation of Axis 4 of the EFF through methodological and thematic support to managing authorities and fisheries local action groups (FLAGs) (thematic seminars, specific meetings, ad hoc support in the Member States). FARNET contributed to the visibility of Axis 4 through its website, including accounts on several popular social networks (Facebook, Twitter, U-Tube, Linkedin), the collection of good practice project examples, a regular newsletter and two issues of its Magazine.

2.6.3.     Studies

EUR 0.4 million for conducting a study on ‘Implementation of Axis 4 in the EFF’. 

Based on a survey undertaken in September 2013 at the Commission’s initiative, the study on the implementation of Axis 4 showed that 312 groups have supported over 8 500 projects, creating an estimated 8 000 jobs, whilst a further 12 500 jobs are reported to have been maintained. The study also estimates that the support from the European Fisheries Fund through this innovative approach has contributed to the creation of 220 SMEs and microenterprises. These figures are likely to increase once the programming period has ended, given that implementation on the ground has progressed steadily since the survey was done. 

The implementation of Axis 4 has resulted in a leverage factor of 1.15, meaning that one EFF euro has attracted another EUR 1.15 (private and public). Furthermore, FLAGs expect that 61 % of projects will continue once EFF support stops. Despite some difficulties, generally speaking there has been no shortage of projects, with demand for funding outstripping supply.

The study also provides valuable pointers for improving the delivery mechanisms over the 2014-2020 period. Country-specific recommendations have been issued for 15 Member States.

The report, together with an executive summary, is available on DG MARE’s website at: http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/documentation/studies/axis-4/index_en.htm

2.6.4.     Non-permanent staff

EUR 0.85 million for the salaries of non-permanent staff involved in the implementation of the EFF, in particular in order to ensure proper coverage of official EU languages.

2.7.        Coordination of the EFF with the Structural Funds and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

The operational programmes (OPs) show that from the outset Member States have been aware of the need to ensure consistency and coordination in EFF implementation with the Structural Funds, as well as with the EAFRD. The OPs provide information about the systems established (or being set up) in the Member States in order to avoid overlapping, as required by Article 6 of the EFF Regulation. Member States’ annual implementation reports do not explicitly refer to fundamental problems of coordination.

2.8.        Preparatory work for the programming period 2014-2020: the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

In 2013, the Commission started working on a proposal for a new fund, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), which would be the financial instrument supporting the reformed common fisheries policy (CFP) in the period 2014-2020. The EMFF proposal was based to a certain extent on the assessment of the implementation of the EFF. The EMFF was eventually adopted in May 2014.

3.           ASSESSMENT OF EFF IMPLEMENTATION PER AXIS

3.1.        Axis 1

3.1.1.     Economic performance of EU fishing fleet in 2012 (based on 2014 Annual Economic Report –2012 data[6])

Data for 2012, on which the annual economic report (AER) for 2014 is based, show that although revenue generated by the fishing fleet decreased compared to 2011, costs fell even more, making the EU fishing fleet generally more profitable than in 2011. The decrease in revenue is consistent with a drop in the total weight and value of seafood landed by the EU fleet.

The EU fishing fleet generated EUR 6.9 billion in revenue, amounting to EUR 3.3 billion in gross value added, EUR 1.3 billion in gross profits and EUR 458 million in net profit. Despite higher fuel prices, energy costs were largely unchanged because the energy consumption of the EU fleet fell. This is due to different factors including the shift to more fuel-efficient fishing gear with EFF and national public support, fleet reduction and changes in fishing behaviour and fleet dynamics.

However, this overall positive evolution in 2012 did not apply to all fleets. Five national fleets made net losses. And whereas the performance of the large-scale and distant-water fleets improved from 2008 to 2012, that of small-scale fleets tended to deteriorate.

Concerning employment, in 2012 the number of fishers was slightly over 120 000 FTE.

3.1.2.     Permanent cessation of fishing operations

By 31 May 2014, the EFF had contributed to 4 087 permanent cessation operations (+2.5 % over 31 May 2013), at a total public cost of EUR 898.58 million, with EUR 527.03 million from the EFF.

The figures per operation do not change significantly compared to the year before. The total cost per operation amounts to EUR 220 064 (the fourth largest), EUR 128 953 of which is EFF funding (the third largest).

3.1.3.     Temporary cessation of fishing operations

Although slightly reduced since last year in relative terms, temporary cessation remains the most used measured in terms of number of operations (61 715 operations, 51 % of the total), Average costs per operation remain the lowest in the EFF (EUR 6 158 total costs, EUR 3 740 EFF costs), and have been decreasing since July 2012 (-3.3 %).

3.1.4.     Investments on board fishing vessels and selectivity

Operations in these fields remain the second most used set of EFF measures (12 090 operations); however, their relative importance (9.99 %) was 10 % below that of 31 May 2013.

The total investment amounted to EUR 415 million; the total public part was EUR 173.23 million. The EFF contribution to the public part was EUR 97.48 million (2.86 % of total commitments).

The cost per operation is EUR 34 327 (half the average total cost), to which the EFF has contributed EUR 8 063 (less than 30 % of the average EFF contribution). The private contribution per operation is EUR 20 000.

3.1.5.     Socio-economic compensation for the management of the fishing fleet

Operations in this field are relatively few in number (5 416 operations, 4.47 % of the total) and very small in investment terms (the second smallest across the EFF).

The total investment amounts to EUR 152.8 million, with a total public contribution of EUR 101.92 million. The EFF contribution was EUR 61.55 million (1.8 % of EFF commitments by 31 May 2014).

The cost per operation amounts to EUR 11 927 (20 % of the average), to which the EFF contributed EUR 7 205 (25 % of the average EFF contribution). The private contribution is very small, at EUR 1 632 (10 % of the average private contribution to EFF-supported measures).

3.2.        Axis 2

3.2.1.     Inland fisheries

Inland fishing measures (Article 33 of the EFF Regulation) are few in number and very small in terms of investment. They are the third least used set of measures in the EFF. As of 31 May 2014, there were just 944 operations (0.78 % of all operations). They account for just 0.36 % of total EFF commitments, the smallest commitment item. They are also the fifth cheapest in terms of EFF commitments per operation, accounting for EUR 12 967, which is less than half the average EFF cost per operation (EUR 28 192). The average total investment per operation is EUR 32 456, which is also the third smallest. The average public national contribution is below EUR 5 800 and the average private contribution per operation is EUR 13 696.

3.2.2.     Aquaculture

Aquaculture measures constitute one of the largest areas of investment for the EFF. The number of operations is small (6 % of the total), but they consume a disproportionate part of EFF commitments (14.45 %). The total cost per operation is EUR 179 000 (the sixth largest), of which EUR 80 600 corresponds to private contributions (4 times the average private contribution) and EUR 68 333 to the EFF, 2.5 times the average. In absolute terms, EUR 1 287 billion was invested in 7 209 aquaculture operations until 31 May 2014, including EUR 492.6 million of EFF funding, EUR 214.05 million of national public contribution and EUR 580.74 million of private funding. Investments in aquaculture are the second largest for the EFF, behind processing and significantly ahead of permanent cessation.

According to AER (data for 2012), sales volume and value reached 1.39 million tonnes and EUR 4.37 billion in 2012. This corresponds to an increase of 3 % in volume and 10 % in value from 2011 and 2012. The total number of enterprises was around 15 000, 90 % of them micro-enterprises (fewer than 10 employees).

Employment in aquaculture is estimated to provide around 80 000 total jobs, most of them part-time. The number of people in full-time employment has decreased slightly, which might indicate a tendency towards higher specialisation. Against that, the average salary increased by 9 % from 2011 and 2012.

The profitability of the EU aquaculture sector decreased between 2011 and 2012, although it was still positive. Labour productivity in the sector dropped by 4 % from 2011 to 2012. Marine aquaculture generated EUR 165 million in profits, followed by the shellfish sector with EUR 32 million profits and the freshwater sector with losses of EUR 32 million.

In September 2014, the European Court of Auditors published a special report on ‘The effectiveness of EFF support for aquaculture’. The report revealed that measures to support aquaculture in the period up to 2013 were not well designed and implemented at EU and Member State level, and that the EFF failed to deliver value for money and effective support for the sustainable development of aquaculture.

The auditors found that the framework at EU and Member State level was not suitable for realising the EU’s objectives for the sustainable development of aquaculture. The Member States’ national strategic plans and operational programmes did not provide a sufficiently clear basis for supporting aquaculture, and Member States lacked a coherent strategy for the sector. The targeting of EFF funding on aquaculture projects was often poor; the auditors found that projects usually failed to achieve the planned results.

The report is available at:        http://www.eca.europa.eu/Lists/ECADocuments/SR14_10/QJAB14010ENC.pdf

To ensure that EU funds available for aquaculture are spent in a targeted way, and following the adoption in 2013 of strategic guidelines[7] for the sustainable development of aquaculture, the Commission has asked national authorities to prepare multiannual national strategic plans for each Member State. These plans address the important factors hindering the development of aquaculture in the EU (need to simplify administrative procedures and to ensure access to space and water through integrated spatial planning, improve competitiveness of the sector, and exploit the competitive advantages of EU aquaculture (level playing field)). The Commission will use these plans to assist the Member States in the identification of priorities for projects that can be financed through the new Fund. Together with the Court's recommendations and the lessons learned from the 2007-2013 period, the Commission hopes to see a more result-oriented approach to investments in the aquaculture sector supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

3.2.3.     Processing

With regard to processing, as explained in previous EFF implementation reports, even if processing operations are relatively few in number (4.18 % of the total), they represent a significant part of EFF commitment (16.65 %). The following Member States are spending more than 16 % of their operational programme budget (national and EU financial support) on processing: Austria (40 %), Lithuania (26 %), Portugal (25 %), Slovakia (24 %), Latvia (23 %), Malta (22 %), United Kingdom (18 %) and Estonia (17 %). Member States that are spending less than 5 % of their OP budget are France (4 %), Belgium (2 %) and the Netherlands (2 %).

The EFF cost per operation (EUR 112 400) is four times the average EFF cost (the fifth in absolute value). The private contribution (EUR 220 358) is around 10 times the EFF average contribution, the largest in absolute terms. The total cost per operation (EUR 393 718) is the second largest, with Member States such as Portugal, Lithuania, Malta and Greece providing more than EUR 500 000 in support per operation. Processing attracts high levels of private funding. Total investments in the processing sector by 31 May 2014 amounted to EUR 1.99 billion for 5 057 operations. This includes EUR 568.4 million financed by the EFF, EUR 308 million by national public funding and EUR 1.114 billion by private funding.

3.3.        Axis 3

3.3.1.     Fishing ports, landing sites and shelters

By 31 May 2014, the EFF was contributing to 1 446 infrastructure projects (1.2 % of the total EFF operations).

Total investments amount to EUR 695.97 million, with a public contribution of EUR 639.6 million (EUR 396.4 million funded by the EFF).

Infrastructure projects are the most expensive in terms of total investment per project (EUR 481 306), in terms of EFF funding (EUR 274 111, nearly 10 times the average) and in terms of national public contribution (EUR 167 518). Private funding per project (EUR 39 677, close to twice the average private contribution) is modest as such and relatively insignificant when compared with the same figure for processing.

3.3.2.     Development of new markets and promotional campaigns

By 31 May 2014, the number of financed operations in this field was relatively small (2 232 operations, 1.84 % of the total). However, the amounts involved were significant: EUR 222.22 million of total investments, with a public contribution of EUR 204.4 million (EUR 130.56 million financed by the EFF, 3.82 % of total EFF commitments).

Operations in this field are the cheapest in Axis 3. The total investment per project is EUR 99 560; EUR 58 492.5 financed by the EFF, EUR 33 082 by the national public contribution and EUR 7 985 by private funding.

3.3.3.     Pilot operations

Pilot operations are key to promoting innovation in the EFF. In the sixth EFF implementation report the Commission expressed its concerns regarding the low number of operations and the high dependence of these operations on public support. Figures as of 31 May 2014 confirm these concerns. The number of operations (592) remains very low (0.49 % of the total), despite considerable progress made since 31 May 2013 (+18 %).

The total investment per operation (EUR 350 193) is the third largest across the EFF, and is increasing. The leverage effect remains below the EFF average, particularly the private part, which has even decreased compared to that of the previous year. It shows the reluctance of private funding to embark on risky projects.

3.4.        Axis 4

The implementation of Axis 4 progressed substantially in 2013. The 21 Member States which implement Axis 4 selected their FLAGs and by May 2014 the number of groups had reached 312.

2013 was a busy time for all Axis 4 stakeholders, FLAGs and project promoters, as well as managing authorities and intermediate bodies, who were all actively preparing, selecting, approving and paying projects. The related figures show a steady rise in project approval: whilst there were only 2 756 projects selected on the ground at the end of 2012, this figure jumped to 6 353 projects in one year. This trend continued and by 31 May 2014, 8 800 projects had been approved, for a total EFF commitment of EUR 328 million. The total estimated value of these projects was over EUR 690 million.

Some Member States modified their Axis 4 allocations in 2013. The two Member States with the largest Axis 4 budgets (Poland and Romania) recently reduced their allocations, which brought the total budget of Axis 4 to just over EUR 500 million.

4.           First set of operational conclusions on the EFF for the period 2007-2013

· Both commitments and certified expenditure at the level of the Member States have improved; but there is still some way to go.

By the end of 2013, only two years before the end of EFF implementation, certified interim payments sent by the Member States represented just over half of the overall EFF allocation. The extent of commitments at national level at this stage is significantly higher (80 %) but still below the ideal/expected 100 %.

These low figures towards the end of the programming period could mean that the Member States will not be able to make full use of 20 % of the funds available in support of the implementation of the CFP unless additional funds are committed in the remaining time until the end of the programming period, i.e. 31 December  2015.

· Trends highlighted in previous implementation reports are confirmed; fleet measures, although still important, have gradually decreased. Aquaculture and processing continue to be important areas of investment for the EFF. Axis 4 is gradually progressing.

The last two years (2012-2013) show a decline in EFF support to measures under Axis 1 while support to Axis 2 measures increased, both for aquaculture and for processing, with a high level of private funding for processing. Investments in aquaculture were the second largest for the EFF, behind processing. Axis 3 also seems to be making progress although at a slower pace. The implementation of Axis 4 progressed well in 2013, but still lags behind the rest.

· General conclusion on audit. In 2013, DG MARE carried out a review of the work of the audit authorities in certain Member States. Seven operational programmes were audited. DG MARE concluded that, in all cases, the opinions of the audit authorities were reliable (although some improvements were needed).

FINANCIAL EXECUTION OF THE EFF BY THE COMMISSION IN CONVERGENCE AND NON-CONVERGENCE REGIONS

Country || || Decided a || Committed b || Paid c || % (b) / (a) || % (c) / (a)

Belgium || Period 2007-2013 || 26 261 648.00 || 26 261 648.00 || 15 856 227.33 || 100.00% || 60.38%

Financial year: 2013 || 4 566 926.00 || 4 566 926.00 || 0.00 ||

Bulgaria || Period 2007-2013 || 71 742 671.00 || 71 742 671.00 || 30 422 962.96 || 100.00% || 42.41%

Financial year: 2013 || 14 817 432.00 || 14 817 432.00 || 5 920 289.26 ||

Czech Republic || Period 2007-2013 || 27 106 675.00 || 27 106 675.00 || 19 509 468.35 || 100.00% || 71.97%

Financial year: 2013 || 4 395 714.00 || 4 395 714.00 || 0.00 ||

Denmark || Period 2007-2013 || 133 675 169.00 || 133 675 169.00 || 83 243 496.02 || 100.00% || 62.27%

Financial year: 2013 || 20 249 424.00 || 20 249 424.00 || 2 127 292.84 ||

Germany || Period 2007-2013 || 137 537 645.00 || 137 537 645.00 || 81 831 242.83 || 100.00% || 59.50%

Financial year: 2013 || 22 785 090.00 || 22 785 090.00 || 15 490 828.28 ||

Estonia || Period 2007-2013 || 84 568 039.00 || 84 568 039.00 || 54 336 527.77 || 100.00% || 64.25%

Financial year: 2013 || 15 488 132.00 || 15 488 132.00 || 12 107 723.59 ||

Ireland || Period 2007-2013 || 42 266 603.00 || 42 266 603.00 || 33 467 120.83 || 100.00% || 79.18%

Financial year: 2013 || 7 350 203.00 || 7 350 203.00 || 0.00 ||

Greece || Period 2007-2013 || 207 832 237.00 || 207 832 237.00 || 145 700 703.39 || 100.00% || 70.10%

Financial year: 2013 || 29 020 837.00 || 29 020 837.00 || 50 836 540.00 ||

Spain || Period 2007-2013 || 1 117 001 406.00 || 1 117 001 406.00 || 666 766 521.03 || 100.00% || 59.69%

Financial year: 2013 || 164 369 114.00 || 164 369 114.00 || 67 686 522.28 ||

France || Period 2007-2013 || 213 025 429.00 || 213 025 429.00 || 131 616 673.94 || 100.00% || 61.78%

Financial year: 2013 || 32 728 219.00 || 32 728 219.00 || 34 523 047.25 ||

Croatia || Period 2007-2013 || 8 700 000.00 || 8 700 000.00 || 2 175 000.00 || 100.00% || 25.00%

Financial year: 2013 || 8 700 000.00 || 8 700 000.00 || 2 175 000.00 ||

Italy || Period 2007-2013 || 414 060 995.00 || 414 060 995.00 || 240 995 602.39 || 100.00% || 58.20%

Financial year: 2013 || 63 740 728.00 || 63 740 728.00 || 77 515 835.93 ||

Cyprus || Period 2007-2013 || 19 724 418.00 || 19 724 418.00 || 15 546 048.76 || 100.00% || 78.82%

Financial year: 2013 || 2 987 900.00 || 2 987 900.00 || 65 839.24 ||

Latvia || Period 2007-2013 || 125 015 563.00 || 125 015 563.00 || 102 422 830.92 || 100.00% || 81.93%

Financial year: 2013 || 22 451 354.00 || 22 451 354.00 || 16 022 380.73 ||

Lithuania || Period 2007-2013 || 54 713 408.00 || 54 713 408.00 || 39 794 284.68 || 100.00% || 72.73%

Financial year: 2013 || 9 332 205.00 || 9 332 205.00 || 11 169 512.89 ||

Luxembourg || Period 2007-2013 || 0.00 || 0.00 || 0.00 || 0.00% || 0.00%

Financial year: 2013 || 0.00 || 0.00 || 0.00 ||

Hungary || Period 2007-2013 || 34 769 572.00 || 34 769 572.00 || 25 655 937.59 || 100.00% || 73.79%

Financial year: 2013 || 6 540 370.00 || 6 540 370.00 || 4 216 277.97 ||

Malta || Period 2007-2013 || 8 372 329.00 || 8 372 329.00 || 4 493 345.49 || 100.00% || 53.67%

Financial year: 2013 || 1 645 221.00 || 1 645 221.00 || 1 630 914.58 ||

Netherlands || Period 2007-2013 || 48 578 417.00 || 48 578 417.00 || 27 186 099.98 || 100.00% || 55.96%

Financial year: 2013 || 7 358 771.00 || 7 358 771.00 || 5 982 530.89 ||

Austria || Period 2007-2013 || 5 259 318.00 || 5 259 318.00 || 4 722 272.76 || 100.00% || 89.79%

Financial year: 2013 || 790 279.00 || 790 279.00 || 347 511.09 ||

Poland || Period 2007-2013 || 734 092 574.00 || 734 092 574.00 || 390 177 612.90 || 100.00% || 53.15%

Financial year: 2013 || 126 330 307.00 || 126 330 307.00 || 116 130 228.87 ||

Portugal || Period 2007-2013 || 226 746 668.00 || 226 746 668.00 || 146 115 817.00 || 100.00% || 64.44%

Financial year: 2013 || 36 914 101.00 || 36 914 101.00 || 34 325 919.48 ||

Romania || Period 2007-2013 || 196 181 626.00 || 196 181 626.00 || 87 676 530.55 || 100.00% || 44.69%

Financial year: 2013 || 45 362 301.00 || 45 362 301.00 || 55 376 542.06 ||

Slovenia || Period 2007-2013 || 21 640 283.00 || 21 640 283.00 || 13 481 826.73 || 100.00% || 62.30%

Financial year: 2013 || 3 071 793.00 || 3 071 793.00 || 4 345 441.02 ||

Slovakia || Period 2007-2013 || 12 898 749.00 || 12 898 749.00 || 8 304 073.77 || 100.00% || 64.38%

Financial year: 2013 || 2 543 929.00 || 2 543 929.00 || 3 133 897.42 ||

Finland || Period 2007-2013 || 39 448 827.00 || 39 448 827.00 || 27 428 599.57 || 100.00% || 69.53%

Financial year: 2013 || 5 975 800.00 || 5 975 800.00 || 5 086 898.73 ||

Sweden || Period 2007-2013 || 54 664 803.00 || 54 664 803.00 || 35 167 059.56 || 100.00% || 64.33%

Financial year: 2013 || 8 280 751.00 || 8 280 751.00 || 10 167 185.03 ||

United Kingdom || Period 2007-2013 || 134 201 597.00 || 134 201 597.00 || 62 339 357.56 || 100.00% || 46.45%

Financial year: 2013 || 23 710 811.00 || 23 710 811.00 || 10 392 606.72 ||

Total || Period 2007-2013 || 4 200 086 669.00 || 4 200 086 669.00 || 2 496 433 244.66 || 100.00% || 59.44%

Financial year: 2013 || 691 507 712.00 || 691 507 712.00 || 546 776 766.15 ||

[1]               Art. 68 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1198/2006 of 27 July 2006 on the European Fisheries Fund, OJ L 120, 15.8.2006.

[2]               Table I. Financial execution in convergence regions.

                Table II. Financial execution in non-convergence regions.

              Table III. Financial execution in convergence and non-convergence regions.

                Table IV. EFF programmed amounts by priority axis and by Member State.

                Table V. EFF certified expenditure by priority axis and by Member State.

[3]               As of 31 May 2014.

[4]               Measured at the level of certified payments.

[5]               There are no individual measures within Axis 4. Hence the comparison of the total axis with individual measures in other axes distorts the comparison somewhat.

[6]               Data collected by Member States under the Data Collection Framework have a 2-year lag.

[7]               Strategic Guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture COM(2013)229

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