Select Committee on European Scrutiny Ninth Report


GUIDE PRICES FOR FISHERY PRODUCTS


(22893)
13628/01
COM(01) 640

Draft Council Regulation (EC) fixing for the 2002 fishing year the guide prices for the fishery products listed in Annex I and II and the Community producer price for the fishery products listed in Annex III to Regulation (EC) No. 104/2000.
Legal base: Articles 26, 36 and 37 EC; qualified majority voting
Document originated: 7 November 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 7 November 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 21 November 2001
Department: Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Basis of consideration: EM of 30 November 2001
Previous Committee Report: None
Discussed in Council: 27 November 2001
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared

Background

  23.1  Council Regulation (EC) No. 104/2000[55] provides for the annual fixing of guide prices for the 26 species of fresh or chilled fish listed in its Annexes. It also provides for the fixing of an annual Community producer price for tuna intended for canning. Guide prices act as the base from which Community withdrawal and reference prices are calculated, which in turn set a market floor for fishermen who are members of a recognised Fish Producers' Organisation which adopts the Community withdrawal price. If no buyer can be found for a particular catch at a price above the withdrawal price, fishermen receive compensation from Community funds according to a pre-set formula. Reference prices are used to decide if action is needed against imports to offset severe market disturbance.

  23.2  Guide prices, and the producer price for tuna, are intended to reflect average prices recorded within the Community in the preceding three years, and production and demand prospects. Account is also taken of the need to support producers' incomes, to stabilise market prices, to consider consumer interests and, in the case of the tuna price, to take into consideration the needs of the Community's canning industry.

The Commission proposal

  23.3  The first proposal prescribes the guide price for fresh or chilled fish for the 2002 fishing year. The Commission proposes the following changes over the 2001 prices:

decreases of:

  • 3% for spotted dogfish;

no change for hake, megrim, flounder, boiled and fresh prawns, edible crab and lobster (whole);

increases of:

  • 3% for herring and mackerel:

  • 2.5% for haddock;

  • 2% for dogfish, cod, shrimps and sole;

  • 1.5% for sardines, redfish, whiting, ling, dab, albacore (whole), cuttlefish and monkfish (without head); and

  • 1% for coalfish, anchovy, plaice, albacore (gutted with head), monkfish (whole) and lobster (tails).

  23.4  The second proposal would set guide prices for frozen fish products. The Commission proposes the following changes over the 2001 prices:

decreases of:

  • 1% for cuttlefish, octopus and squid (illex);

no change for hake and squid (of the species Omnastrephes sagittatus);

increases of:

  • 2% for Greenland halibut, sea bream, sword fish and squid (of the species Loligo); and

  • 1% for prawns (parapenaeus and other penaeidae)

  23.5  The third proposal would set the Community producer price for the 2002 fishing year for tuna at _1,160 (£720) per tonne, a 1% decrease on the price set for 2001.

The Government's view

  23.6  In his Explanatory Memorandum of 30 November 2001, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Commons) at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr Elliot Morley) says that consultation with the processing and catching sectors "has not identified any widespread concern about the proposal". In the Government's view, the firm whitefish market, and weak market prospects for pelagic species, particularly herring, mean that the proposals as a whole are "fairly well judged" and uncontroversial, apart from the proposed guide prices for herring and mackerel (which the Government considers as questionable, as withdrawal levels for both species remain high within the Community) and hake (where the Government is concerned that high prices for certain sizes of hake may encourage excessive local withdrawals). The financial implications would be funded from the existing budget of _17.2 million (£10.7 million).

Conclusion

  23.7  The setting of the guide prices for fish and fisheries products has in some years proved controversial. However, notwithstanding the Minister's comments on herring, mackerel and hake, that does not on the whole appear to be the case on this occasion, and we are therefore clearing the document.


55   OJ No. L17, 21.1.00, p.22. Back


 
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