Council and Parliament reach a provisional political agreement on access to EU waters, extending the current rules for fishermen for another ten years
The Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament have reached a provisional political agreement on the regime for access of fishing vessels to the territorial waters of the Member States.
The provisional agreement extends the rules for access to EU waters – which were set to expire at the end of the year – for another ten years. If passed, it will enter into force on January 1, 2023.
The agreement ensures that the current restrictions will not expire at the end of the year and lead to unrestricted access to member states’ waters.
It was a very urgent agreement. We have succeeded in avoiding chaos in the territorial waters of the Member States and at the same time guaranteeing continuity, security and stability for all fishing fleets and all fishermen. The balance developed in the Union under the current regime will not be broken, which is certainly excellent news.
Jaroslav Zajíček, Czech Deputy Permanent Representative
As the interim agreement points out, these access restrictions are an integral part of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The duration and scope of this extension may be revised in the context of a possible future revision of the CFP, after a prior evaluation of the operation of the policy. The Commission will assess the general rules for access to waters before the expiry of the current derogations, by 30 June 2031.
The provisional agreement also clarifies the access of Italian vessels to the 6 to 12 nautical mile zone of Greek territorial waters in the Ionian Sea and in the Greek EEZ, and maintains the existing conditionalities with regard to the reciprocal access of Croatian and Slovenian fleets to their respective waters.
The EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) establishes rules for the management of European fishing fleets and the conservation of fish stocks. Under the CFP, all European fishing fleets have equal access to EU waters and fishing grounds, allowing fishermen to compete fairly. In 1977, Member States negotiated a derogation from this key principle, to allow coastal States to reserve access to the first 6 miles to their national fleets, and to enforce the historic rights of other Member States in the 6- 12 miles. The derogation was integrated into the CFP and maintained since, renewed every ten years within the framework of the successive reforms of the CFP. This derogation was due to expire on December 31, 2022. On July 5, 2021, the European Commission adopted a proposal to extend the restrictions on access to EU waters for ten years, in order to avoid the interruption of the current regime.
The provisional political agreement must be adopted by the Council and the European Parliament.