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Monday, October 07, 2013

Richard Benyon set an example for how to achieve EU reform and decentralisation

As part of the latest cabinet reshuffle, Richard Benyon is leaving his post as UK Fisheries Minister:


As he returns to the backbenches, it's worth highlighting how Mr Benyon - with the support of MPs on the EFRA Committee, who also produced some substantial work on this issue - played a pivotal role in one of the first cases of EU decentralisation and reform, with responsibilities flowing from Brussels to member states. By leading the way in reforming the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) - until recently possibly Brussels' silliest policy of the lot - he did show that it's possible for the UK to forge alliances and achieve real change.

As a quick reminder, the reformed CFP is due to enter into force on 1 January 2014 - following final approval from national governments and MEPs. The most significant changes include:
  • A ban on discard of unwanted fish, which is to be gradually enforced between 2015 and 2019. This means fishermen will be obliged to land all the fish they catch and count it against their fishing quotas - and will go a long way to end the ridiculous practice whereby fishermen in some cases threw back 90% of the fish caught. 
  • Greater regionalisation of decision-making. Basically, member states bordering a certain sea basin will sort out day-to-day technical issues among themselves, based on broad principles decided in Brussels. However, the allocation of fishing quotas will remain a centralised process (so there's still scope for some reform here).
  • From 2015, and by 2020 at the latest, EU fishermen will not be allowed to catch more than a given fish stock can reproduce in a given year - under the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) principle.
  • Annual allocations of fishing quotas will have to be consistent with longer-term management plans for individual fisheries. The rationale behind this is to try and avoid, or at least reduce, the yearly squabbling between national fisheries ministers in Brussels.
The European Commission - DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries - should be given some credit as well since it actually had the courage to table a proper reform proposal. This is also an example of where Berlin and London hooked up to outflank the Mediterranean bloc.

So UK ministers, Brussels, Berlin and everyone else - take note.

7 comments:

Rik said...

I am a bit more sceptical on that.
Simply hard to see the EU being completely overhauled without some sort of institutional crisis.
Imho it simply needs a new set up fit for the modern days. The slightly adjusted present one simply will not work. Just one example: nobody has yet convincingly explained to me that the EZ with the changes proposed in a way that looks politically possible would be sustainable.

The EU needs a structural overhaul to make EU membership acceptable for the UK electorate.

Starting from the last point. One way or another this will be decided by the UK electorate. Be it directly in a referendum or indirectly in a general election with new kids on the block.
Hard to see it otherwise.
In that respect eg Labour's policies are difficult to understand. Somewhere they will have to move and be the dinosaur on the block hardly attracks voters. Not even to mention the totally clumsy way things in this respect are played by them.
They might not really like it. They probably wish things are different and hope there will be a miraculous rescue from it. But hope is not a strategy. It is the last thing when everything else has failed.

Seen the polls the UK electorate simply demands real change or an out. And with a substantial numbers and pretty stable as well.
If there is a trend it is one to more anti-EU.
EU officials and a lot of of UK politicians might not like it, might want it to be different and hope for some miraculous rescue.
But again hope is not a strategy.

As said probably a institutional crisis is necessary for real change in the EU. That is the bad news. The good news is that there are so many potential possibilities for that, that it is hard to see that the next years will not provide such a crisis.
Largely caused by the set up of the EU (and the EZ). A country leaving one of them simply would almost certain create such a crisis. And from that moment all bets are off what will happen next.
Again a lot of folks might hope it will be different (that no country economically or politically will hit the wall) and that all probelms for the next half a century will be solved. But that is hardly realistic in any way.
As said hope is not a strategy at least not one that often works.

Anonymous said...

Turkey's aren't famous for voting for Christmas and that is the heart of the problem for any reform agenda.

There are simply too many vested interests supping off the gravy train. Expect any reform proposals to be block, vilified as perfidious Albion, delayed, amended beyond recognition ...... in fact business as usual.

Anonymous said...

Seems like he lost his job because he actually stood up to the eussr, Camaroon needs to start to listen not just go his own sweet way with this problem.

Anonymous said...

Rearranging the furniture in your prison cell doesn't make you free.

Again, the despicably deceptive Eurofascist Open Europe is serving its fascist EUSSR masters by disseminating disinformation.

jon livesey said...

"Seems like he lost his job because he actually stood up to the eussr,.."

I have no idea why you say this, because the evidence points the other way.

Cameron's reshuffle looks like an attempt to make the Cabinet a bit more like the country at large, and Benyon has the misfortune to be about the richest MP around, so that makes him a bit of a liability.

Anonymous said...

It's difficult to make his Cabinet look more like the country at large, most of us aren't selfish money grubbing millionaires, who want to privatize everything and blatently lie at party conferences.

Rollo said...

The only solution to the fisheries problem is to take them back from the EU; and impose a 200mile territorial limit. Can you imagine this acquis communautaire being ditched with 100% agreement from Council of Ministers: Oh, oui, sie, ja, take back your waters.....