Select Committee on European Scrutiny Second Report



Draft Council Regulation on the conclusion of the Protocol setting out the fishing rights provided for in the Agreement between the European Economic Community and the Government of Denmark and the Home Rule Government of Greenland on the fishing activities in Greenland waters for the period 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2006.


Draft Council Decision on the conclusion of an Agreement concerning the provisional application of the Fourth Protocol laying down the conditions relating to fishing provided for in the Agreement on fisheries between the European Economic Community on the one hand and the Government of Denmark and the local government of Greenland on the other.

Legal base: Articles 37, 300(2) and (3) EC; consultation (Regulation only); qualified majority voting
Department: Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Basis of consideration: EM of 11 December 2000
Previous consideration: None
To be discussed in Council: Following receipt of European Parliament opinion
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared, but relevant to any debate on fisheries


  9.1  For a number of years, there has been an Agreement which provides fishing opportunities for Community vessels in Greenland waters, in exchange for a financial contribution. The present protocol expired on 31 December 2000, and a further (fourth) protocol was concluded earlier last year to cover the period 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2006. The present documents would give effect to the new protocol, in that the draft Council Decision would provide for its provisional application for an interim period, pending the adoption of a Council Regulation giving formal effect to the new arrangements.

The current proposals

  9.2  Although we have not seen the texts of what is proposed, we have been informed in an Explanatory Memorandum of 11 December 2000 from the Parliamentary Secretary (Commons) at the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr Elliot Morley) that the quotas from the third Protocol would be carried over as follows:

Western stock
Eastern stock
31,000 1 2
Greenland Halibut
Blue whiting
Roundnose grenadier
Roundnose grenadier
2,000 3
Polar cod

1. Amount shown may be fished East or West
2. 25 per cent of unused quota in any one year may be rolled forward, in which event the annual quota would be increased by one-third of the difference between 83,250 tonnes and the Total Allowable Catch
3. As an experimental clean fishery in deep water

  9.3  However, he says that, for the time being, quotas are restricted to currently available fishing opportunities (below the levels set out in the table above), and that "it will be for the Community to decide unilaterally on the basis of available scientific information when it should have access to the full quantities". These would be accessed at no additional cost to the Community.

  9.4  The total cost of the new protocol to the Community in each of the six years will be 42.82 million euros (£26.24 million), of which 28 million euros (£17 million) will cover fishing opportunities and 14.82 million euros (£9 million) non-fisheries components of the Agreement, including the development and co-operation needs of Greenland. This would amount to nearly 257 million euros (£158 million) over the six years, and is thus among the most expensive of the Community's fisheries agreements. However, the Minister points out that this figure may be affected by the review of the protocol which is provided for no later than 30 June 2003.

The Government's view

  9.5  The Minister says that the UK distant-water fleet regards the quotas received under the Greenland agreement as an essential component of the package of fishing opportunities available to it in the North Atlantic, and wishes to see the existing quotas maintained. This is particularly the case for cod, since, although there has been no commercial fishing of this stock since 1992, there are signs that it may return to Greenland waters over the period of the new protocol. In the meantime, he says that Greenland halibut represents the only viable fishery for the UK in these waters at present.


  9.6  In the absence of a text, we find the description in the Minister's Explanatory Memorandum of some of the finer details of this arrangement a little obscure. Nevertheless, it is clear that the opportunities presented by this Agreement are, at least potentially, ones valued by UK fishermen, and they could well assume greater significance, particularly if the opportunities for catching cod in areas such as the North Sea and Irish Sea were to remain severely diminished. These are therefore documents which we think it right to draw to the attention of the House, but, as the arrangements proposed essentially roll over those in the recently expired protocol, we do not think there is any need for them to be debated separately. On the other hand, if the hope expressed by the Minister during the debate in European Standing Committee A on 11 December 2000, that there should be a general fisheries debate on the Floor of the House in the New Year, were to be realised, these documents would clearly be relevant.

  9.7  We clear the documents.

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Prepared 26 January 2001