efa meps march 2018.jpg
Hudghton (Greens/EFA) - Mr President, Mr Cunha's report is an important one, seeking as it does to review compliance by Member States with their obligations. Clearly, if European Union rules and regulations are agreed, then there is a responsibility on Member States and governments to comply. I have no difficulty whatsoever in supporting that principle, but how should a defaulter be penalised? Is there a need in this case for new sanctions? If so, are the sanctions proposed by Mr Cunha likely to be effective?
Paragraph 6 attempts to address the issue of quota sanctions which Mr Cunha and Mrs Fraga Estévez support so strongly. I make no apology for having raised points of order on this issue earlier in the morning. The proposal to utilise automatic quota cuts is doubtful in its legality, impractical and almost unenforceable and punishes the fishermen – not Member States, as my Scottish colleague said a moment ago; and most importantly, threatens to undermine the principle of relative stability. Mrs Fraga Estévez has rightly reminded us that quota penalties have been raised in this context in previous debates in this House; in 1998 a similar proposal was debated, and it might even have had the same author. The then Commissioner, Mrs Bonino, in her response to that debate said, and I quote: "one amendment contains proposals for sanctions. The Commission does not agree with this proposal for several reasons. Firstly, because the automatic reduction in quotas for noncomplying countries seriously undermines the basic principle of the common fisheries policy, which is that of relative stability.' She summed up saying – I quote again: 'I would therefore ask Parliament to reconsider a reduction in quotas as a sanction because of these possible implications.' I hope that the new Commission will take the same line following today's debate. I am sorry that Mr Fischler is not here to answer for himself although he did, at this hearing, make very positive comments about relative stability, which I welcome. Amendments to paragraph 6 have been tabled but I cannot support them because both accept the principle of using quota cuts as a penalty. Quota-setting should be based solely on science and conservation objectives, not used as an automatic penalty. If defaulting Member States are to be encouraged to comply with their MAGP targets, then an effective system of sanctions must be targeted at governments – not at fishermen. We have asked for split votes on paragraph 6 and I hope that we will have the opportunity to exercise these. I hope that Members of this House will oppose, in principle, the use of quota penalties as a deterrent in this issue.