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On 20 June 2017, the Council of the European Union reached an agreement with the European Parliament on new rules for the sustainable management of external fishing fleets. The agreed regulation will apply to all EU vessels fishing outside EU waters, and to third-country vessels fishing in EU waters.

The new framework simplifies the existing rules and extends their scope, with the aim of emphasising the coherence between the internal and external dimension of the fisheries management, and provides for an overhaul of the previous regime of authorisations to make sure that EU fishing activities outside Union waters respect the same principles and standards as those applicable in EU waters.

According to the new authorization regime, European vessels, before fishing outside the Union’s waters, will require not only an authorization or agreement from the third country concerned, but also an authorization issued by its flag Member State. The various authorisation procedures are also improved to limit the administrative burden, increase legal certainty, ensure equal treatment between internal and external fleets, and shorten the time of response to applicants.

Clint Camilleri, Maltese Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Animal rights welcomed the agreement and said: ‘Thanks to these new and more transparent rules the EU will be better equipped to monitor its external fleet, and to fight against illegal fishing. We are proud to end our fisheries semester with such an important achievement’.

The new agreement still needs to be approved by the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper). After formal endorsement by the Council, the new legislation will be submitted to the European Parliament for a vote at first reading and to the Council for final adoption. The new regulation should to enter into force by the end of 2017.


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Giovanna Bagnardi e Davide Scavuzzo

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