Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2001-11-14-Speech-3-377"

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". – Mr President, I wish to begin by thanking and congratulating Mrs Miguélez Ramos, the vice-chairperson of the Committee on Fisheries, for her report on this extremely important regulation which aims at facilitating conversion for those thousands of fishermen and hundreds of vessels whose activity has been suddenly cancelled because it has not been possible to conclude a new fishery agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco. Lastly, Amendment No 18, which has no practical consequence. The wording of Article 7 should remain consistent with the wording of the equivalent articles of Regulation (EC) No 2792/1999. In conclusion, the Commission has a favourable opinion of Amendments Nos 9 and 12, and my colleague, Mr Fischler, will propose to the Fisheries Council that it includes them in the new regulation. Amendment No17 may be considered, depending upon the decision taken by the budgetary authority. I was speaking on behalf of my colleague, Mr Fischler, who, I am sure, will deal with any questions that I was unable to answer. Beyond the availability of existing instruments, the Community has decided to make a special effort with a twofold initiative. Firstly, the Council regulation aiming at widening the scope of existing provisions and, secondly, additional credits for a specific action. While the proposal for additional credits is currently being discussed by the budgetary authority, today's debate focuses on the legislative proposal. The Commission welcomes the fact that the emergency procedure should allow the adoption of the regulation by the end of November instead of the end of December. The report includes 18 amendments, which may be grouped in a few categories, which I shall review now. The first group consists of Amendments Nos 1, 2, 5, 10, 11 and 13. The Commission does not believe that the land-based industries – that is to say, fish-processing factories, as well as services to vessels – ought to benefit from the new regulation, nor should the coastal regions themselves. Indeed, regional development programmes already exist, and those industries in need of conversion or those coastal communities in need of diversification should benefit from the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund. Aquaculture and the fish-processing industry should benefit from the financial instrument for fisheries guidance. The second group of amendments consists of Amendments Nos 3 and 4. The Commission does not believe that all fishermen and vessel owners who have received indemnities in 2000-2001, irrespective of the actual duration of the cessation of activity, should benefit from the new regulation. Therefore a minimum duration of compensation, as a simple criterion, has been proposed and a nine-month duration has been considered a reasonable minimum. Moreover, until now, no evidence has been given that such a duration would penalise those who have tried to find alternative activities and are still in a difficult situation. The third group consists of Amendments Nos 6, 7 and 8. With respect to the age of vessels to be withdrawn, the Commission has proposed to reduce the minimum age to five years in the case of the exporting of vessels. All other rules should be maintained. Moreover, the Commission has proposed that the accumulation of grants for construction should be prevented premiums for withdrawal. Any alternative rule would be against the sound management of public money, and therefore the Commission could not support those amendments. On Amendments Nos 9 and 12, the Commission would stress that social premiums for fishermen are already available in the existing regulation. Nonetheless, it may support increasing those premiums in the new regulation. However, Spain and Portugal should guarantee that such increased premiums do not create distortion in relation to equivalent social premiums that may be available for workers of other industries in the same Member States. I turn to Amendments Nos 14 and 15. The additional credits are not structural funds. Providing them allows the Commission to set up some rules. Those rules should be in line with today’s priorities, which amount to scrapping redundant vessels and also to social measures. No ‘adjustment’ or ‘variation’ should be allowed. Then there is Amendment No 16. From the Commission’s perspective, granting a joint enterprise in the fisheries sector is quite a risky action. Two legal provisions limit that risk: firstly a bank guarantee, and secondly, a partially delayed payment (that is, after two years of satisfactory operation). The budget rules for using additional credits imply the relaxation of the second provision, but the Commission is willing to maintain its financial risk at the same level. Therefore it has proposed to balance that loss by increasing the bank guarantee to 40% of the premium. But that is a purely mechanical calculation. Then there is Amendment No 17. If the budgetary authority decides to earmark the commitment credits dedicated to the specific action in the budgetary year 2002, the wording of that article should remain unchanged. Otherwise it should be adjusted accordingly."@en1

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