Don’t Sink CFP Subsidies Reform So Close to Shore

An End to All Nighters
The all night fishing council meetings are becoming ever rarer.
There was an unhealthy and slightly macho pride in fishing ministers going onto the airways after having haggled for 48 hours non-stop to defend “look what i brought the boys back home, I stood up for our national interest”.
Cross-Dressing Charlatans
Now, I’ll readily admit politicians draped in the flag the easiest sign post for a charlatan. But, making important decisions with little or no sleep is pretty stupid. You would not  expect a grown adult to go into talks fueled with several large whiskeys, although I have heard in certain countries this is still  common. Sleep deprivation has similar effects on the body as getting lashed up.
Now, the idea that haggling over intricate details is most politicians strong point at any hour, let alone at 2 am, is silly.
All Nighters Alive And Well In Brussels
But, in Brussels, when the Parliament and Council can’t reach an agreement, they shut them away to force them to reach an agreement. The Commission joins the late night seances with the job of nudging them towards agreement.
A group of sleep deprived insomniacs are then expected to broker a deal. The results can be comic, with both sides not realizing  the details they eventually signed off on.
CFP Subsidies Reform About to Run Aground?
Now, the last stage of the CFP, the subsidies EMFF package, is waiting for final agreement.
Agreement seems tortuously close. Grown men late at night are discussing whose going to pay for data collection!
The reality is if the Parliament does not seal the deal soon, they will run out of time to finalize a deal before April, and then they will return to their constituencies to ask to be job interviewed by their voters in the May election. If they don’t sort it out very soon, a new group of MEPs will need to start talks in October 2014.
Given that fisheries is in most EU countries a negative and substantial negative contributor to the national economy, the reform is going to rely on a lot of taxpayers cash – nicely known as subsidies – to pay for it. Without the flow of subsidies, a lot of the reform would not be able to be financed. But, also a lot of the industry would fold without the drip feed of subsidies.
Poltics is the art of compromise, and compromise is not aided by sleep deprivation and haggling over arcane points. If they can’t reach a deal very soon, they’ll inadvertedendly scupper parts of the CFP and many fishing boats.

Fishing Giant Subsidy Free?


Fishing Giant – Nearly Subsidy Free

Yesterday, I was surprised that Pescanova seemed not to have got a cent in subsidies from the EU or Spain.

After all, this was one of the world’s leading fishing companies, and one famous for developing the commercialization of the distant water fishing, seems to have gone from boom to well publicised bust without hardly any taxpayers support.

Having looked at Europe’s current stock of distant water fleet vessels, many, although not all, received a small fortune of aid from EU taxpayers and mainly corporate welfare handouts for vessels construction and modernization from mainly French and Spanish taxpayers.

€3 billion debts

So, I thought that Pescanova, who are reported to have debts of around 3 billion euros, would have got a few million or so.
I was wrong. Looking at a list of Spain’s reported fishing subsidies, you can see it here,  and aid to Pescanova and its subsidiaries, I could only find one subsidy:

ACUINOVA, S.L. 212 CAND00007 212 2 Variación producción por ampliación/modernización explot. existentes PROYECTO DE ADAPTACION DE NURSERY DE DORADAS A CRIADERO DE LANGOSTINOS 2008/2010 €477.182,31

It is interesting that one of the world’s largest fishing companies, with a fleet of around 100 vessels, got so little from the EU/Spanish taxpayer.

Did Pescanova ever get subsidies?

Interesting response to the a Parliamentary Question on whether European Taxpayers lost any money when Pescanova collapsed.

It seems they have no idea.

See the question and response.


Parliamentary questions
15 November 2013
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
Chris Davies (ALDE)


 Subject:  EU subsidies to Pescanova
The Spanish company Pescanova is based in Vigo and is said to own some 120 fishing vessels.

A report by KPMG has alleged that the company has a negative net worth of EUR 927 million and has, over the years, used various methods to conceal the extent of its debts, said to amount to EUR 3.28 billion. Bankruptcy proceedings have now commenced.

Will the Commission provide details on the subsidies paid from the EU budget to Pescanova or its subsidiaries over the past 20 years?


entary questions
8 January 2014
Answer given by Ms Damanaki on behalf of the Commission
The European Fisheries Fund is implemented in the frame of shared management, meaning that national and regional authorities are primarily responsible for the selection of operations and for the implementation of the European Fisheries Fund (EFF). For this reason the Commission does not have a list of beneficiaries. However, Member States are under the obligation to publish the list of legal entities benefiting from EFF support.

The Commission would therefore refer the Honourable Member to the list of beneficiaries of the European Fisheries Fund and of the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) drawn up by the Spanish authorities(1).



Chris Davies – MEP of the Year

Today, I put forward Chris Davies MEP forward for the Parliament Magazine MEP of the Year –

As a life long Labour Party member it is a little strange to be putting forward a British Liberal forward for his work on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.CAP 3

(ps: Sarah Ludford MEP with Chris Davies MEP (in the suit)

But, I have spent more than 20 years working on Europe’s fisheries policy, and the text below explains why I think Chris Davies has done an outstanding job as a Parliamentarian.

On 13 July 2011, the European Commission proposed to reform the Common Fisheries Policy. I thought that Commissioner Maria Damanaki’s ambitious package would be clipped by fisheries ministers and members of the fisheries committee.

I had not imagined that Chris Davies MEP, the UK Liberal MEP from the North West of England, would enter the fray. He decided to put the conservation of fish stocks at the heart of the failed CFP and ensure a long term future for the industry.

Chris Davis created a genuine cross party coalition of MEPs together with MEPs Ole Christensen (S&D), Christofer Fjellner (EPP), Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL), Isabella Lövin (Greens/EFA), Anna Rosbach (ECR)
and Nils Torvalds (ALDE), to back the real reform of Europe’s failed Fisheries Policy.

More than a third of all Members of the European Parliament from across all groups and countries joined “Fish for the Future” ( to end discards and end overfishing. The silent majority spoke up. On 18th December 2012, the European Parliament Fisheries Committee did what many thought it would never do and back and end to discards. MEPs who had never voted, appeared. On 6th February 2013, 502 MEPs overwhelmingly backed an ambitious reform to end the discarding of fish and mandate sustainable fishing levels by 2015. Only 137 MEPs voted against. Whole delegations defied party lists and instead backed Fish for the Future.

Fisheries Ministers were in shock. The Parliament wanted to end the madness of discards and require an end to overfishing by 2015. Quiet deals to smoother reform were no longer an option.
This would not have happened without Fish for the Future. Chris Davies had the audacity to make fisheries make sense, he even went so far as to dress as a fish to explain his case.

This Manchester liberal dared to think the unthinkable and work to bring about a coalition of the willing from all countries and groups to bring about real reform. I never thought it would happen. Without Chris Davies’ drive, energy and focus I know it would never have happened. Fish for the Future gave Europe’s fisheries hope.