Written QeA to EU Commission – IUU Regulation (combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing)

Question for written answer to the Commission – Nicola Caputo (S&D) – 4th December 2014

During the confirmation hearings for the Juncker Commission, the Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said that his priority will be to protect the natural capital on which sustainable growth depends and safeguard the health and well-being of citizens. He also said that he wanted to consult very soon with the European Parliament and the Council on updating the IUU Regulation.

Furthermore, it is a known fact that illegal fishing is a threat to the sustainable use of resources and compromises the common fisheries policy and international efforts to improve the management of ocean resources and seas.

In light of the above, can the Commission, as a whole and without prejudice to the competences of the Member States, explain how it proposes to:

1. more effectively combat this highly profitable practice, restricting access to the market to certified products only?
2. guarantee greater surveillance and more effective sanctions for violations?
3. increase awareness of the practice among consumers and users?

Answer given by Mr Vella on behalf of the Commission – 3rd February 2015

The EU has put in place a comprehensive system of rules dealing with the control of fishing activities, the combat of illegal fishing and the elimination of the access of IUU fish to the EU market as set out in the Control(1) and IUU Regulations(2).

With respect to the combat of the IUU activities the Commission is working on the following areas:

Establishing a global and integrated common approach to fisheries control ‘from the net to the plate’,
Enhancing mutual cooperation between all Member States, third countries, the Commission and the European Fishery Control Agency,
Developing a culture of compliance for all stakeholders and disseminating useful information to raise awareness,
Ensuring a level-playing field across the EU in terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the EU IUU rules,
Applying effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions for serious infringements against these rules,
Guiding Member States on issues concerning the application of the EU catch certification system,
Promoting robust and targeted controls at EU ports through an active use of the mutual assistance system, exchange of information and best practices between the Commission and Member States,
Cooperating with third countries in addressing IUU problems and achieving structural changes in their fisheries management systems to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing.

The Commission intends to continue and reinforce its work in those areas in the coming years.

(1) Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 of 20.11.2009 establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the common fisheries policy, OJ L343/1, 22.12.2009.
(2) Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, OJ L 286/1, 29.10.2008.

(Source: European Parliament)

Written Q&A to EU Commission – Food frauds and FVO powers

Question for written answer to the Commission 

Marc Tarabella (S&D) , Jean Louis Cottigny (S&D)

Subject:  Range of FVO audits

Could the Commission broaden the range of the Food & Veterinary Office (FVO) audits so that they cover food fraud?

Does the Commission share the view that the FVO and the Member States should carry out regular unannounced, independent and mandatory inspections in order to detect intentional infringements and ensure that the most stringent food safety standards are met?

In order to restore and maintain consumer confidence, it is important to be transparent as regards the manner in which official inspections and checks are carried out, and also to publish the reports or findings on the checks and inspections conducted on operators in the food industry.

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission (21st February 2014)

Through its audits, the FVO assesses whether the controls in place in Member States to verify compliance with the EU agri-food chain rules deliver effectively and allow proper enforcement. In doing so, it also identifies potential weak points in official controls along the food chain, or the governing legal framework, which may provide opportunities for potential irregularities.

Member States’ official controls to verify compliance with the agri-food chain rules are unannounced (Regulation (EC) No 882/2004). The proposed Regulation on official controls, currently discussed by the co-legislators, introduces and expands that principle to regular controls directed at identifying intentional violations. As regards FVO audits, the current legislation does not mandate it to carry out unannounced inspections. Moreover, the Commission considers that the Member States themselves are better placed to carry out such inspections on the basis of their on-the-ground intelligence, and their investigative powers.

Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 already requires Member States to make control information available to the public. The proposal referred to above requires competent authorities to publish regularly and timely information on official controls, non-compliances, and measures or penalties applied. Moreover, competent authorities will be enabled to make publicly available the outcome of controls performed on individual operators and information about their scoring against food chain law requirements (e.g. ‘smileys’). As regards the audits of the FVO, the Commission underlines that the results of these are published routinely, and since 1998.

© European Union, 2014 – Source: European Parliament