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Document 52006AE0961

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament — 2006-2008 Action Plan for simplifying and improving the Common Fisheries Policy COM(2005) 647 final

OJ C 309, 16.12.2006, p. 60–66 (ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, IT, LV, LT, HU, NL, PL, PT, SK, SL, FI, SV)

16.12.2006   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 309/60


Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament — 2006-2008 Action Plan for simplifying and improving the Common Fisheries Policy

COM(2005) 647 final

(2006/C 309/13)

On 23 January 2006 the European Commission decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Article 262 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the abovementioned proposal.

The Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 24 May 2006. The rapporteur was Mr Sarró Iparraguirre.

At its 428th plenary session, held on 5 and 6 July 2006 (meeting of 5 July), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 164 votes to none with one abstention.

1.   Conclusions and recommendations

1.1

As it has informed the Commission in previous opinions, the EESC supports the process of simplifying Community legislation and therefore welcomes the publication of the 2006-2008 Action Plan for simplifying and improving the Common Fisheries Policy. The aim of the present opinion is to contribute to the outstanding work the Commission plans to carry out, which is of vital importance to improving the Community's fisheries legislation.

1.2

For the simplification process to be successful, the Committee considers that close cooperation with the fisheries sector must be forged by supporting and intensifying links with the Commission's consultative bodies, i.e. the Regional Advisory Councils (RACs), the Advisory Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture (ACFA), and the Fisheries Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee.

1.3

The EESC believes that the first thing the Commission should do is to consolidate the existing rules. Once this is done, the Commission must strive to meet the aims set out in its communication, which it fully endorses:

a)

an improvement in the clarity of existing texts, making them simpler and more accessible;

b)

a reduction of costs and constraints for public administrations; and

c)

alleviation of administrative costs and constraints for fishermen.

1.4

The EESC also endorses the choice of the two areas and the legislative instruments on which the action plan focuses: conservation and management of fish stocks, and monitoring of fishing activities. The Commission will subsequently have to continue the process of simplifying and improving the rest of the CFP.

1.5

The Committee considers the measures put forward in Sheet 1 on TACs/Quotas-fishing effort to be appropriate: separate treatment of the different aspects of conservation policy, regulation on the basis of uniform groups and implementation through multiannual management plans. However, it considers that the time between the date of delivery of the scientific opinions and the December Council meeting which sets the TACs, quotas and other highly important management measures is very short and not enough to hold all the necessary consultations and reach agreement. The Committee therefore calls for more time between the publication of the scientific opinions and the final decision.

1.6

With regard to Sheet 2 which sets out to simplify technical measures, the EESC is concerned at the possibility of the European Commission assuming powers at present held by the Council.

1.7

Similarly, with regard to the possibility that Sheet 2 also provides of authorising Member States to adopt local technical measures, the EESC considers that the Council should also approve requests submitted by the Member States, in order to prevent inequalities and discrimination between fishermen of different countries.

1.8

The Committee agrees with the Commission on the measures set out in Sheets 3, 4 and 5 to simplify the process of data input and management and to make monitoring measures more effective. It considers coordination between the Commission and the European Fisheries Control Agency to be of the greatest importance for drafting such measures. The EESC also believes that a transitional period should be provided for bringing information technologies into use. This is necessary in order to define the process in agreement with the technical specialists, fishermen and the Member States, provide full guarantees of commercial confidentiality, secure the trust and support of stakeholders, test the process under real conditions, contribute to the increased financial cost of the new equipment to be introduced and, consequently, to ensure the success of the simplification reform.

1.9

The EESC warmly welcomes the Commission's proposal on Sheet 6 to remove all reporting obligations of little or no value, in order to reduce the workload of fishermen and the Member States.

1.10

The Committee considers the simplification measures contained in Sheet 7 to be necessary, and urges the Commission to give consideration to drawing up a standard agreement as a basis for negotiating fishing agreements with all third countries, as well as to granting and issuing fishing licences electronically.

1.11

The EESC considers that combating illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, which is one of the CFP's objectives, also merits mention in the action plan, in the form of an objective aimed at defining the simplest and most effective means possible of combating such IUU fishing. The EESC believes that this process should focus on access to consumer markets, strengthening the powers of the relevant port States, and banning high seas transshipment.

1.12

Lastly, the EESC considers that the scale of the work entailed by the 2006-2008 action plan is such that it may not be possible to complete it within the three year timeframe. It therefore recommends that the Commission review the plan before the end of 2007.

2.   Reasons

2.1

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the European Union has embarked upon an ambitious mission to improve its entire legislative environment, in order to make it more effective and transparent.

2.2

With the development of the European Union during the second half of the past century, this legislative environment has turned into a substantial body of Community law constituting the Community acquis.

2.3

The Community acquis has grown in the wake of the many laws concerning each of the Community's various policies, together making up the regulatory environment of Community policy.

2.4

In accordance with the instructions of the European Council, the Commission is currently engaged in coordinated action with the other Community institutions to simplify and improve the regulatory framework of Community legislation.

2.5

This work to simplify and improve EU legislation is an integral part of the revised Lisbon strategy for growth and employment in Europe and therefore focuses on those aspects of the Community acquis which affect the competitiveness of businesses in the EU.

2.6

Given that European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent 99 % of all EU businesses, and provide two thirds of employment, action to simplify and improve European Union law-making is of crucial importance to them, as it lightens the legal and administrative burden they presently bear.

2.7

As part of this strategy of simplification and improvement of Community legislation, the Commission has planned to set up a rolling simplification programme covering the agricultural, environmental, health and safety at work, fisheries, taxation, customs, statistics and labour law sectors.

2.8

The Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, 2006-2008 Action Plan for simplifying and improving the Common Fisheries Policy, the subject of the present opinion, brings the multiannual 2006-2008 rolling programme to bear on the fisheries sector, in order to simplify and improve the CFP.

2.9

As an institutional representative of organised civil society, the EESC — which has expressed its support for simplifying the European law-making process to the Commission in previous opinions — welcomes the publication of the Action Plan. The present opinion is intended to contribute to the Commission's outstanding work and to encourage it to continue its multiannual approach.

3.   Background

3.1

The Lisbon European Council of 23 and 24 March 2000 asked the Commission to prepare an action plan ‘for further coordinated action to simplify the regulatory environment’. This call was subsequently confirmed by the European Councils at Stockholm (23 and 24 March 2001), Laeken (8 and 9 December 2001) and Barcelona (15 and 16 March 2002).

3.2

The Commission accordingly presented a White Paper on European Governance, which was adopted in July 2001 (1), and contained a section on improving the quality of regulation. A wide-ranging consultation process on the white paper finished on 31 March 2002.

3.3

The European Economic and Social Committee's opinion on the white paper stated that ‘the Committee supports the proposals of the White Paper to simplify and speed up the European legislative process, as Community rules are increasingly complex and sometimes tend to add to existing national regulations rather than actually simplifying and harmonising them’ (2).

3.4

Under this approach, in June 2002 the Commission proposed an action plan to simplify and improve the regulatory environment. The proposal was in turn submitted to the other Community institutions for discussion (3).

3.5

The action plan clearly calls for the three main stages of the legislative cycle — presentation of a legislative proposal by the Commission, discussion of the proposal in the European Parliament and Council, and implementation of the regulatory instrument by the Member States — to be completed with a view to reaching an interinstitutional agreement to improve the quality of Community legislation.

3.6

The simplification of EU legislation, which began some years ago, has picked up speed since February 2003, with the Communication from the Commission on Updating and simplifying the Community acquis  (4). Using this communication as a starting-point, the Commission launched a wide-ranging programme to identify those legislative acts which might be simplified, consolidated and codified, and which is continuing today.

3.7

The Communication from the Commission Better Regulation for Growth and Jobs in the European Union  (5), published in March 2005, gave new impetus to the Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making signed on 16 December 2003 by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. Its main purpose is to improve the quality of Community legislation and its transposition into national law (6).

3.8

Lastly, in October 2005 the Commission published a Communication on Implementing the Community Lisbon Programme: A strategy for the simplification of the regulatory environment  (7), which put in motion the action plans for the various Community policies by means of rolling simplification programmes.

3.9

In parallel with the intensive work to direct the simplification and improvement of the full range of Community legislation and its regulatory framework, the Commission forwarded a Communication on Perspectives for simplifying and improving the regulatory environment of the Common Fisheries Policy  (8) to the Council and the European Parliament.

3.10

This latter communication, together with the one now being presented on the 2006-2008 Action Plan, provide a basis for the present opinion.

3.11

The EESC, aware of the complexity involved in simplifying and improving all Community legislation, urges the Commission to continue along the same path and to strive to comply promptly with the established deadlines in order to achieve the objectives set.

4.   General comments

4.1   Community fisheries legislation 1983-2002

4.1.1

The Community's legislation on fisheries was grouped under the 1983 Common Fisheries Policy. The rules governing the policy fell short of the mark: fisheries management rules were based on translating scientific findings into legislative provisions, but with an almost total absence of communication with the Community fisheries sector; and the legislation was excessively complex as a result of the laborious Commission-Council-Parliament decision-making procedure.

4.1.2

Past and present evaluation must take into account the fact that legislation in this sector covers a varied group of fisheries and addresses several chapters: structures, conservation and the environment, external resources, markets and enforcement. This diversity necessarily results in numerous regulations or, in some cases, lengthy regulations which are difficult to interpret.

4.1.3

Furthermore, the Council's decision-making procedure at the end of each year for the annual setting of TACs and quotas, makes it difficult to hold all the necessary consultations and reach decisions in time for the measures to enter into force, in turn resulting in numerous amendments to the published regulations.

4.1.4

This inevitable accumulation of amendments to the various regulations governing the CFP means that neither laymen nor fishermen can easily understand texts drawn up by experts who draft legal provisions frequently based on scientific documents which are not readily comprehensible.

4.1.5

Council and European Parliament negotiations sometimes produce more complex final documents than the original proposals.

4.1.6

Lastly, in legal and political terms, some regulatory measures have been placed at a higher level than strictly necessary, making them harder to amend and simplify.

4.1.7

The EESC understands that although the root causes of many of these situations still persist, the Commission is aware of them and is taking the necessary measures to correct them, as it began doing as long ago as 1992 by amending the 1983 CFP, and with the 2006-2008 Action Plan which it is now presenting following the reform of the CFP on 31 December 2002.

4.2   Current Community fisheries legislation

4.2.1

Simplification is a natural part of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy of 31 December 2002 (9). A number of steps — repeals, declarations of obsolescence, and screening of the legislative environment — are already under way.

4.2.2

The Proposal for a Regulation to set up a new European Fisheries Fund (10), on which the Committee has issued a favourable opinion, is a good example of programming for the simplification initiative, replacing or modifying, with a single regulation, the provisions of the four regulations making up the Multi-Annual Guidance Programmes (MAGP) and the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) into a single regulation.

4.2.3

Throughout 2004 and 2005, the Commission put in place a series of pieces of legislation which will help it to tackle the reform and simplification of the CFP. These include:

the European Fisheries Fund;

the European Fisheries Control Agency;

establishment of the Regional Advisory Councils;

Community financial measures to implement the CFP and the Law of the Sea.

Wide-ranging debates and discussions were also held with numerous contacts, culminating in the presentation of the above-mentioned Communication on Perspectives for simplifying and improving the regulatory environment of the Common Fisheries Policy.

4.2.4

The communication suggests that simply reducing the number of regulations is not enough to improve the regulatory environment of the CFP; there must be, at the same time:

an improvement in the clarity of existing texts, making them simpler and more accessible,

a reduction of costs and constraints for public administrations,

alleviation of administrative costs and constraints for fishermen.

4.2.5

The EESC believes that, with regard to any work to make texts clearer, a special effort should be made to consolidate them. Continual reference to other regulations from previous years makes the documents much more difficult to understand.

4.2.6

The latter communication highlights the fact that some chapters of the CFP are particularly difficult to carry through: this applies to fisheries enforcement, because of the differences between Member States concerning implementation, and resource conservation measures, due to the combined implementation of different management tools.

4.2.7

Overall analysis reveals that while allowing for the inherent complexity of CFP management, the existing rules have gradually become excessively complex.

4.2.8

The EESC considers that the Commission should approach the improvement and simplification of CFP legislation by putting particular emphasis on enforcement and resource conservation measures. The action of the recently-established European Fisheries Control Agency should be stepped up in this direction.

4.3   2006-2008 Action Plan for simplifying and improving the Common Fisheries Policy

4.3.1

As a result of the all the work carried out under the above-mentioned communications, the Council called on the Commission to prepare a multiannual action plan meeting all the requirements to achieve simplification and improvement of the CFP. In response, in December 2005 the Commission published the Communication 2006-2008 Action Plan for simplifying and improving the Common Fisheries Policy  (11).

4.3.2

The 2006-2008 Action Plan presented by the Commission comprises:

a methodology for simplifying and improving the CFP; and

an indication of the initiatives that should, as a matter of priority, be simplified and improved.

4.3.3

The action plan's approach is straightforward, providing an overall picture of the areas (enforcement, fishing effort, funding, etc.) in which action is to be taken to simplify and improve legislative texts. For each of them, it indicates the necessary measures, who should be involved in the simplification process and the relevant deadlines within the 2006-2008 timeframe. Lastly, it lays down three types of legislation for each of these areas:

instruments whose review has already been started;

new legislation to be drawn up in the coming years; and

legislative instruments now in force which must however be simplified as a matter of priority.

4.3.4

The legislative instruments now in force as the main focus for the start of the CFP simplification plan for the 2006-2008 period. They all concern measures for the management and monitoring of fishing activities.

4.3.5

The EESC endorses the choice of these two areas for priority action under the plan, as they account for much of the complexity of current legislation. The Commission will subsequently have to continue the process of simplifying and improving the rest of the CFP.

4.3.6

Legislative instruments whose review has already started and for which simplifying principles have been implemented will continue to be treated in accordance with the plan to improve legislation. This is the case with the European Fisheries Fund, and with the general provisions concerning the authorisation of fishing in the waters of a third country under a fisheries agreement. Both of these legislative instruments, which have already been simplified by the Commission, have met with a positive response in Committee opinions.

4.3.7

Under the action plan, the simplification objectives set for new legislation to be drawn up in the coming years will be systematically observed.

4.3.8

The EESC supports the general approach of the 2006-2008 action plan, considering it to be appropriate. Implementing the plan, as set out in the Annex to the action plan, however, will require a major simplification drive if the deadlines are to be met. It is crucial that the efforts and understanding of the Member States, the European Parliament and the fisheries sector, through its RACs and the ACFA, together with the Fisheries Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee, be combined.

4.3.9

Implementation of the action plan focuses as a priority on the following areas and legislative instruments:

Conservation of fish stocks

TACs/Quotas, fishing effort

Technical measures for the protection of juveniles of marine organisms

Collection and management of data for the CFP

Monitoring of fishing activities

Monitoring — Body of legislation

Monitoring — Computerisation

Reporting obligations

Authorisation to fish outside Community waters.

4.3.10

Each of these seven legislative instruments is detailed in the Annex to the action plan through sheets which set out the planned simplification measures to improve the existing regulatory framework and administrative environment concerned. For each measure, it specifies the programming envisaged with details of the different actors involved in the measures and a list of the instruments to be simplified together with reference documents necessary for considering simplification.

4.3.11

The EESC, having examined each of the seven sheets in detail, assures the Commission that it considers its handling of reform and simplification to be appropriate and that, if all the steps indicated in each of the sheets are completed within the deadlines set, the 2006-2008 action plan will bring very significant improvements to the Community's fisheries legislation.

4.3.12

In Sheet 1, the action plan proposes simplification measures concerning TACs/Quotas-fishing effort. It fundamentally addresses the annual Council regulations which fix the fishing opportunities for the following year, altering the structure of the provisions laying down conditions for the exploitation of fishery resources, of targeting the decisions at uniform groups, and of drawing up multiannual management plans.

4.3.13

The EESC considers the simplification measures put forward in Sheet 1 to be appropriate, with separate treatment of the different aspects of conservation policy, regulation on the basis of uniform groups, and implementation through multiannual management plans being crucial.

4.3.13.1

Nevertheless, the Committee considers that the lack of time between the date of delivery of the scientific opinions and the December Council meeting which sets the TACs, quotas and other highly important management measures such as limits on fishing efforts, makes it difficult to hold all the necessary consultations and reach agreement. The rules resulting from this rushed and complex decision-making process may contain technical or legal shortcomings that require amending regulations, further complicating the rules and their implementation. The inadequate consultation of fishermen and other stakeholders is highly detrimental to the understanding, acceptance, application and, consequently, the effectiveness of these rules.

4.3.13.2

Similarly, the EESC is of the opinion that the decision-making process of the regional fisheries organisations also suffers from the lack of time between the delivery of the scientific opinion and the meeting of the decision-making body. The effects of this lack of time are the same as those outlined in the previous point.

4.3.13.3

Regarding the ‘uniform groups’ approach proposed by the Commission, the EESC sees this as entirely appropriate particularly if, as it hopes, this means a ‘uniform fishery’ approach and a two-fold regulation: a horizontal framework regulation and an implementing regulation for each fishery.

4.3.13.4

In the Committee's view, moreover, experience shows that recovery plans and multiannual management plans have generated wide-ranging consultation and a high level of agreement. Once such plans are adopted, they lighten the decision-making procedures for the years in question. However, the EESC considers that they must be in keeping with the present division of powers between the Council and the Commission, and must be open to revision, given the shifting nature of the criteria used to evaluate the state of the relevant stocks.

4.3.14

The EESC believes that reform of the decision-making procedure for resource management measures, guaranteeing that the rules are simplified and made more effective, depends on bringing forward the date of delivery of the scientific opinions and recommendations (from ICES-ACFM for Community waters, and the scientific committees of the regional fisheries organisations for non-Community waters), enabling real consultation to take place with the RACs and ACFA. It may also require spreading the TACs/Quotas package over several Councils, as well as adjusting the management year to bring it closer into line with the biological year and to take account of a better match with the market. This process is therefore a comprehensive one, going beyond front-loading alone. The EESC considers that every aspect will have to be examined in detail, leading in turn to the widest possible consultation with the Member States, fishermen and the other stakeholders.

4.3.15

The purpose of Sheet 2 is to reform existing legislation on the protection of juveniles of marine organisms, by gradually grouping together technical measures by fishery. While the EESC welcomes this fishery-by-fishery approach for all management measures, it feels it is primarily applicable to the technical measures. The system put forward by the Commission is based on an adjustment of the structure of the legal rules relating to technical measures, proposing that the Council should regulate the general guiding principles in succinct form, while the Commission should stipulate the technical aspects in greater detail. The EESC is concerned at a simplification which would result in the Commission making laws by assuming powers at present held by the Council of Ministers. The Committee therefore considers that while the legislation should be drawn up as proposed in the simplification measure, the final decision should be submitted to the Council.

4.3.16

Regarding the possibility of authorising Member States to adopt local technical measures, as outlined in Sheet 2, the EESC believes that such authorisation could generate inequalities and instances of discrimination between fishermen of different Member States if the measure were to be used improperly or not sufficiently monitored, clashing with the necessary harmonisation of CFP rules. Member States' requests in this regard should therefore be approved by the Council.

4.3.17

The Commission considers that, in order to implement the proposed measures, prior consultation of the sector should be increased, the performance of the technical measures applied assessed, certain existing technical provisions clarified, leaflets and information documents produced, information technology used, and fishermen's reporting obligations reduced. The EESC, while convinced that all these actions are necessary, would point out to the Commission that the use of information technologies for data input and management inevitably requires a process of adjustment and financial support allowing vessels to adopt these new technologies. A reasonable transitional period must therefore be granted in order to define the process in agreement with the technical specialists, fishermen and the Member States, provide full guarantees of commercial confidentiality, secure the trust and support of stakeholders, test the process under real conditions, contribute to the increased financial cost of the new equipment to be introduced and, consequently, to ensure the success of the simplification reform.

4.3.18

Sheet 3 proposes to reduce the number of legal texts on the collection of management of data for the CFP. As for Sheet 2, simplification entails adjusting the current legal structure on the basis of a Council regulation for the general approach and a Commission implementing regulation for the technical and administrative aspects. The EESC restates its concern, expressed in point 4.3.14 above, regarding the powers which the Commission proposes to assume.

4.3.19

As part of its simplification approach, in Sheet 3 the Commission proposes a multiannual programme to collect and manage data in order to reduce the administrative workload of the Member States. The Committee considers the Commission's proposal to be both timely and necessary, subject to the comments set out in point 4.3.17 above.

4.3.20

Sheet 4 sets out to reform the current legislation on monitoring by revising the current regulations and bringing them into line with CFP reform. The EESC views the revision of the monitoring regulations as being of the utmost importance to harmonising the various rules in order to prevent diverging interpretations. All inspection and monitoring provisions must be very explicit in defining inspection, implementation methods and forms of practice. In any case, the EESC calls on the Commission to ensure that in simplifying monitoring legislation, the existence of the European Fisheries Control Agency is never overlooked.

4.3.21

In Sheet 5, the Commission proposes a review of all provisions on monitoring and computerisation. It envisages drawing up regulations once the Council has decided on the proposal from the Commission on electronic recording and reporting of fishing activities and on means of remote sensing (12). It also envisages the computerisation of the management of fishing agreements with third countries with regard to fishing licences, and catch and effort data associated with these agreements. The EESC, agreeing that computerisation of monitoring systems is necessary, would repeat its views set out in point 4.3.16 above on the need for a transitional period in applying information technologies.

4.3.22

Sheet 6 provides for simplification of the entire body of CFP legislation in order to remove provisions introducing reporting obligations of little or no value to the satisfactory implementation of the CFP. The EESC considers the removal of such provisions to be a necessary part of the simplification process, reducing the workload of those involved and of the Member States.

4.3.23

Lastly, Sheet 7 envisages simplifying authorisation to fish outside Community waters, by means of a reform of the arrangements for the management of fishing agreements with third countries. Simplification entails adjusting the current legal structure to earmark the basic principles for the Council and the technical and administrative aspects for the Commission. The Committee considers such simplification to be necessary, and urges the Commission to give consideration to drawing up a standard agreement as a basis for negotiating fishing agreements with all third countries, as well as to granting and issuing fishing licences electronically.

4.3.24

The EESC believes that simplifying and improving the CFP for fleets operating outside Community waters also requires a fishery-by-fishery approach, and particular treatment at all levels: fleet, authorisation, licences, permits, declarations, etc. The EESC is convinced that vessels flying EU Member State flags and operating in waters outside Community jurisdiction should be subject to rights and obligations adapted to the resource they are fishing and the zone in which they are located. The EESC therefore asks the Commission to include this objective in its action plan, which must not be restricted to the ‘fisheries agreements’ (or partnership agreements) alone. In this connection, the EESC would emphasise the need for compliance with the social clause accepted by the Community social partners.

4.3.25

Lastly, the EESC considers that combating illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, which is one of the CFP's objectives (particularly in its external aspect), also merits mention in the action plan, in the form of an objective aimed at defining the simplest and most effective means possible of combating such IUU fishing. The EESC believes that this process should focus on access to consumer markets, strengthening the powers of the relevant port States, and banning high seas transshipment.

5.   Specific comments

5.1

The 2006-2008 action plan, as set out in the Commission's communication, is of vital importance in improving the Community's fisheries legislation. No further important legislative instruments have been identified in the fields of monitoring or fishery resource management which need to be added to those proposed by the Commission. The Committee therefore urges the Commission to implement them without delay.

5.2

The Committee believes that among all the legislative instruments which it is proposed to improve and simplify, that on TACs/Quotas and fishing effort is of particular importance to the implementation of multiannual management plans.

5.3

Carrying out the 2006-2008 action plan may require the Commission to draw up new implementing regulations. The EESC does not think that this increase will pose any problems. What is important is that, even if the Community acquis grows, regulations should be clearer, targeted on the relevant fisheries, easily understood and as consolidated as far as is possible.

5.4

With regard to the latter aspect, the Committee would draw the Commission's attention to the difficulty in interpreting the current fisheries legislation, with repeated references to other regulations, directives and communications. Consolidation of documents is crucial is they are to be easily read and understood.

5.5

Coordination between the Commission and the European Fisheries Control Agency is very important in applying the monitoring rules. The European Fisheries Control Agency will have to work to standardise criteria in order to resolve differing interpretations of fisheries monitoring legislation by the Member States — a frequent source of complaint by fishermen.

5.6

Lastly, the Committee sees computerisation of Community fisheries legislation as important for electronic access to Community texts. The introduction of new information technologies to fishing vessels must however be carried out gradually, and without cost to fishermen, since some computer methods may not be appropriate to them.

5.7

The Committee calls upon the Commission to resolve any difficulties which may arise regarding the 2006-2008 action plan, being convinced that the plan is essential and will be of benefit to the Community fisheries sector.

Brussels, 5 July 2006.

The President

of the European Economic and Social Committee

Anne-Marie SIGMUND


(1)  COM(2001) 428 final of 30.7.2001.

(2)  OJ C 125 of 27.5.2002, p. 61 (COM(2001) 428 final European Governancea White Paper).

(3)  COM(2002) 278 final of 5.6.2002 — Action Plan ‘Simplifying and improving the regulatory environment’.

(4)  COM(2003) 71 of 11.2. 2003.

(5)  COM(2005) 97 of 16.3.2005.

(6)  OJ C 321 of 31.12.2003 and corrigendum OJ C 4 of 8.1.2004.

(7)  COM(2005) 535 of 25.10.2005.

(8)  COM(2004) 820 of 15.12.2004.

(9)  Council Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002.

(10)  COM(2004) 497 final.

(11)  COM(2005) 647 final of 8.12.2005.

(12)  COM(2004) 724 final.


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