The new plan proposed is intended to be more flexible and more effective as it changes the focus of the measures in force, which defined total allowable catches (TACs) according to biomass, i.e. the quantity of fish in the sea. Since desirable levels of biomass in the long term cannot be precisely determined scientifically, it is proposed that fishing effort be modified (targeted limit of quantities fished). Mortality by fishing will thus be adjusted on an individual basis according to the level of recovery attained in an area, and optimum fishing rates will be determined.
TACs will be fixed by reducing fishing mortality by 25 %, 15 % and 10 % depending on the state of the stock. Fishing effort will be limited by ceilings expressed in kW/days (i.e. according to engine power). Fisheries that contribute most to fishing mortality will thus have their catch possibilities reduced.
Another crucial problem of fishing in general - and cod in particular - is discards. New arrangements are to be introduced to help fishermen limit their by-catches of cod, that is cod taken when fishing for other species. Checks and inspections will also be stepped up.
More generous food aid for the poorest in Europe
Given the sharp rise in food prices, the European Union is taking concrete measures to help citizens in need. European Agriculture Ministers had an initial exchange of views on 29 September on a Commission proposal for a root-and-branch reform of the current system for distributing food aid to the most deprived people in the Union.
The European Community has been supplying food aid to the most needy for twenty years. Nor are the numbers in receipt of this aid negligible: in 2006, for example, more than 13 million people had recourse to food aid. Recipients include various categories of person: families in difficulty, the elderly and those with no fixed abode.
The proposed reform includes several new features: purchasing from the market will constitute a larger source of supply, alongside surplus stocks of agricultural products (intervention stocks), which have been in decline since the reform of the common agricultural policy. Moreover, the range of products will be extended to improve the nutritional balance: fruit and vegetables are included in the scheme for the first time. Foodstuffs chosen by Member States' authorities will continue to be distributed in cooperation with charitable organisations and local welfare services.
Member States are free to participate in the scheme. After the reform, they will have to bear a portion of the costs, enabling the total budget to be increased substantially. The Community financial contribution will remain high, and the less favoured countries will benefit from a higher rate of Community co-financing.
After this initial presentation of the proposal to the Council, Ministers will be invited to return to the subject at a forthcoming meeting.
Council press release(fr) (pdf)
Council webcast of press conference
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council, 2 October in Luxembourg
Economic and Financial Affairs Council, 7 October in Luxembourg