Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2003-06-03-Speech-2-323"

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". Commissioner, like many of the Members, I believe that fisheries play a social and cultural role as well as an economic role, particularly small-scale fisheries, given their ability to contribute to social and economic cohesion processes, especially in the most remote, outermost regions. We therefore welcomed the Commission’s Action Plan seeking to avert the negative social effects of the fisheries reform and we endorse the idea of addressing these negative effects through a compensation programme. That said, a number of points in the Commission’s proposal give cause for concern in that, for example, the reference data put forward is obsolete, dating back to 2000. Three years have passed since then, and the Commission itself acknowledges that the assessment is largely theoretical. There is a need for a serious and detailed debate on the model to be adopted: whether to opt for industrial fisheries, involving a small number of large, modern economical vessels, or small-scale fisheries, involving a large number of small and medium-sized vessels, which may be less profitable but certainly employ more labour. Lastly, there is a need for an updated version of the Commission’s Action Plan, parts of which ought to have been updated in line with the conclusions of the Fisheries Council in December 2002. Moreover, Commissioner, some parts of the proposal are unconvincing. For example, the Mediterranean is completely disregarded. The Commission does not take into consideration its specific nature but only a number of areas of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. This amounts to cultural penalisation caused by historic long-sightedness in the process of European integration itself: our Europe continues to be purely north-facing. This was the case during the many years when the common agricultural policy was being developed and it is the case now as well with regard to the common fisheries policy. However, it is dangerous, first and foremost, because we are on the eve of the inauguration of the Mediterranean area of free trade in 2010, which will make the Mediterranean sea a major area of social, economic, human and political exchange for which we must be prepared. Another key aspect is job losses. The Commission appears to envisage the loss of 12 000 jobs, which are to be recouped over the space of four years. We feel this prediction is optimistic, in that it underestimates the impact of the reform, failing to take into account the consequences for related sectors, dockyards and the processing industries. It is estimated that the European processing industry alone employs at least 100 000 people. Above all, the Commission’s estimate fails to take into account the fact that it is unlikely that it will be possible to retrain workers, such as those in the fisheries sector, who, especially in some areas of Europe, have a low level of education and work in areas suffering from an extremely high unemployment rate. If we think we can recoup them and retrain them to do other jobs we are deluding ourselves, particularly where Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal are concerned. Then, in many countries, there are no welfare support provisions and fishermen would be in danger of becoming reject workers, superfluous citizens; another implicit risk is the social, cultural and economic desertification of many parts of the Union. We need to focus aid on small-scale fisheries, seeing as they currently employ half the fishermen working in the sector and account for 75% of vessels. It is true that the level of catches is very low, but in terms of employment small-scale fisheries play a vital role. The Commission acknowledges that financial incentives to small-scale fisheries have not served much purpose, it acknowledges that further measures are needed, although they will be some time coming, and talks only of long-term perspectives. These considerations call forth the question of what resources to invest to mitigate the socio-economic consequences of this reform. We are opposed to reprogramming of the Structural Funds, considering, rather, that these funds should be reserved for other priorities. The fact that 80% of the regions concerned are Objective 1 and 2 regions means that the Structural Funds are currently necessary and crucial for addressing priorities which cannot be confused with the project contained in this resolution. In our opinion, we need to set up an fund, a measure which could even be temporary for implementing recovery plans. One last point, on the subject of women. The fact that 22% of the labour force is made up of women is not reflected at all in the Commission’s Action Plan. Overall, we support the long-term conclusions, but we feel that it would be appropriate to reformulate some parts of the Action Plan and to analyse the socio-economic impact of the reform more carefully."@en1

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