The European Commission’s proposal to make a drastic cut of 15% to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), which critics say fails to consider the challenges facing the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in the post-2020 period, has been harshly criticised by the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Region (CPMR).

While the CPMR welcomes the decision to maintain the EMFF as a specific fund with a main focus on fisheries and aquaculture, along with the continued support for small-scale fisheries and specific measures for outermost regions, it is concerned there is no recognition of the role of regions in Operational Programmes.

“There are positives in the Commission’s proposals for the post-2020 EMFF, such as the simplification, the strengthening of specific measures for outermost regions, support for Community Led local development and sustainable blue growth,” said Pierre Karleskind, Vice-President for Fisheries and Ports of the Brittany Region, and President of the CPMR’s Fisheries Intergroup. “However, they have failed to improve the efficiency of the fund via stronger partnership with regions.”

The CPMR explicitly states that the proposed regulation provides for a 16% decrease of the EMFF budget in shared management, and an increase of 11% for direct management, which keeps the management of the fund from the reality of territories.

It also calls for the review of the proposal for managing authorities to only use financial instruments to support aquaculture and processing of products. Managing authorities must be able to determine the appropriate forms of support with socio-economic actors.

“The European Parliament and the Council now need to take action to give more responsibilities to member states and regions in the management of the fund. Shared management should be extended, and it should be possible to adopt regional operational programmes,” said George Alexakis, Vice-Governor of Crete, and CPMR Vice-President in charge of Maritime Affairs.