General Market

Motion for a resolution on the European Parliament’s priorities for the Commission Work Programme 2018 – B8-2017-0435

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission, in particular Annex IV thereto,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making of 13 April 2016,

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration on the EU’s legislative priorities for 2017 of 13 December 2016,

–  having regard to the Conference of Committee Chairs’ Summary Report, which provides complementary input to this resolution from the point of view of parliamentary committees and which the Commission should take duly into account when drafting and adopting its Work Programme for 2018,

–  having regard to Rule 37(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the role of the Commission is to promote the general interest of the Union, to take appropriate initiatives to that end, to be committed to applying the rule of law, which is based on the core European values and is fundamental to Europeans living together in peace, to exercise coordinating, executive and management functions, and to initiate legislation;

B.  whereas the Commission has a duty to uphold the Treaties and enforce EU laws; noting with strong regret that both the implementation of EU policies and the enforcement of EU laws and rules are weak, as has become visible in areas such as environmental standards, fundamental rights and the rule of law, free movement of persons, and the Schengen area; whereas the Commission should make implementation and enforcement a top priority in 2017-2018;

AN AREA OF JUSTICE AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS BASED ON MUTUAL TRUST

Justice

1.  Calls once again on the Commission to put forward a legislative proposal on EU administrative law which will guarantee an open, efficient and independent European administration, and to take due account of Parliament’s proposal for an EU regulation in this regard;

2.  Calls on the Commission to take into account concerns over access to and ownership of data in its work on Building the European Data Economy and related liability issues for intermediary service providers and other online platforms in order to ensure legal certainty, increase consumer trust and ensure full compliance with citizens’ rights to privacy and full protection of personal data in the digital environment;

Security

3.  Calls on the Commission to ensure the efficient and coordinated implementation of the European Agenda on Security for the 2015-2020 period and its priorities in the fields of counter-terrorism and cross-border organised crime and cybercrime, focusing on effective security outcomes; reiterates its call for an in-depth evaluation focused on the operational effectiveness of relevant existing EU instruments and on the remaining gaps in this field, prior to the presentation of new legislative proposals as part of the European Agenda on Security; deplores, in this regard, the continued and systematic absence of impact assessments on several proposals presented as part of that agenda;

4.  Calls on the Commission to seek to adopt legal acts amending or replacing the Union acts in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters that were adopted before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, in particular Council Decision 2005/671/JHA and Council Framework Decision 2006/960/JHA on the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities, including the exchange of information on terrorist offences, by proposing a horizontal legislative instrument to improve the exchange of law enforcement information and increase operational cooperation between Member States and with EU agencies, with a view to ensuring mandatory exchanges of information for the purpose of combating serious transnational crime;

5.  Calls on the Commission to submit without undue delay an amendment to the new Europol founding regulation, in order to develop a genuine European investigation capacity, equip the agency with a legal capacity to request the initiation of a criminal investigation, and foster the sharing and pooling of information at EU level;

6.  Calls on the Commission to mobilise expertise and technical and financial resources in order to ensure EU-level coordination and exchanges of best practices in the fight against violent extremism and terrorist propaganda, radical networks and recruitment by terrorist organisations through offline and online means, with a particular focus on prevention, integration and reintegration strategies with a clear gender perspective;

7.  Calls on the Commission to fulfil its duty as guardian of the Treaties and assess the compliance with EU primary and secondary law of measures recently adopted by Member States in the field of counter-terrorism and surveillance, bearing in mind that any limitations to fundamental rights should be duly reasoned, provided for by law, respect the essence of the rights and freedoms recognised by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and be subject to the principle of proportionality, in accordance with Article 52(1) of the Charter;

Fundamental rights

8.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to make every effort to unblock the proposal for a horizontal anti-discrimination directive; invites it to upgrade its List of Actions to advance LGBTI Equality to a full European response to the fundamental rights problems faced by LGBTI people, in the shape of an EU roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity;

9.  Calls on the Commission to speed up negotiations on the EU’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention, the first legally binding instrument on preventing and combating violence against women at international level; reiterates it call on the Commission to include a definition of gender-based violence in line with the provisions of the Victims’ Rights Directive and to present as soon as possible a legislative act for the prevention and combating of gender-based violence;

10.  Calls on the Commission to implement the actions outlined in its strategic engagement without delay and incorporate a systematic and visible gender equality perspective into all EU activities and policies;

11.  Encourages the Commission to continue to progress towards EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), taking into account the Court of Justice opinion on the matter and addressing the remaining legal challenges; urges the Commission to urgently seek solutions to the two most problematic issues relating to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), namely mutual trust and judicial review;

12.  Calls on the Commission to ensure a timely and compliant entry into force of the data protection package, and to support a successful completion of the legislative process for the adoption of the ePrivacy Regulation; urges furthermore that the confidentiality of electronic communication be protected by promoting the use of end-to-end encryption and prohibiting by EU law any obligation imposed by Member States on undertakings providing public communications networks or publicly available electronic communications services that would result in the weakening of the security of their networks and services;

TOWARDS A NEW POLICY ON MIGRATION

13.  Calls for EU legal migration instruments to be replaced by a single horizontal regulation to create a true EU legal migration policy;

14.  Calls for a standalone European humanitarian visa regulation;

15.  Calls for a revision of the Facilitation Directive to clarify the distinction between illegal smuggling activities and the actions of ordinary citizens helping people in need;

16.  Calls for implementation and monitoring reports on the functioning of the European Border and Coast Guard;

A UNION OF DEMOCRATIC CHANGE

17.  Invites the Commission to put forward a proposal for a democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights pact in the form of an interinstitutional agreement, along the lines of the recommendation made by Parliament in its legislative own-initiative report;

18.  Reiterates its call for the setting-up of an endowment for democracy grant-giving organisations that would support local actors promoting democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights within the Union;

19.  Points to growing efforts by third states and non-state actors to undermine through hybrid means, including disinformation, the legitimacy of democratic institutions inside the EU, and urges the Commission to strengthen its resilience against hybrid threats and its capacity to advance strategic communication inside and outside the EU, and to improve its ability to adequately counter false news and disinformation in a systematic manner;

A NEW BOOST FOR JOBS, GROWTH AND INVESTMENT

MFF revision, budget and employment

20.  Recalls that, under Article 25 of the MFF Regulation, the Commission must normally present a proposal for a new multiannual financial framework before 1 January 2018; expects that this proposal will address such priorities as a comprehensive reform of the own resources system on both the revenue and the expenditure side, a greater emphasis on the unity of the budget to ensure full parliamentary control over all expenditure, more budgetary flexibility, including a new special instrument to be counted over and above the MFF ceilings, adjustments to the duration of the MFF to align it with the political cycles of both Parliament and the Commission and the modalities of the decision-making process that would ensure the availability of the necessary financial resources;

21.  Underlines the need for an in-depth reform of the own resources system, based on principles of simplicity, fairness, transparency and accountability; strongly welcomes in this regard the final report of the High Level Group on Own Resources; calls on the Commission to present, by the end of 2017, an ambitious legislative package on own resources post-2020, which would aim at ensuring that the EU budget focuses on areas bringing the highest European added value, phasing out all forms of rebates and ending the ‘juste retour’ approach; expects that any new own resources should lead to a reduction in Member States’ GNI contributions;

22.  Calls on the Commission to maintain the allocation of cohesion policy funds and European Structural and Investment Funds at the level decided in the MFF in 2013; considers, on this basis, that technical adjustment should avoid any decrease in the budget for cohesion policy, given its importance in creating growth and jobs, ensuring cohesion within the EU, and, in particular, supporting SMEs and innovation and research, as well as a low-carbon economy and urban policies;

23.  Calls on the Commission to coordinate the EU Urban Agenda and thus ensure the coherent and integrated policy solutions that cities need at European level, and to guarantee the link with the Better Regulation agenda; calls on the Commission to strengthen its internal coordination of issues relevant to urban areas and, for example, expand the instrument of impact assessments so as to include the urban dimension more systematically;

24.  Considers that the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) is essential in tackling youth unemployment, which remains unacceptably high in the EU; calls on the Commission to secure adequate funding to fight youth unemployment and continuing the YEI up to the end of the current MFF, while at the same time improving its functioning and implementation and taking into account the latest findings of the European Court of Auditors special report on youth employment and the use of the YEI (No 5/2017); calls, furthermore, on the Commission to come forward with proposals to facilitate the employment of people aged over 50;

25.  Urges the Commission to put in place all suitable mechanisms for greater mobility among young people, apprenticeships included, as a way to address skills mismatches in the labour market and improve access to employment opportunities;

26.  Calls on the Commission to take further steps in the framework of the New Skills Agenda, such as developing a pan-European skills needs forecasting tool which would make it possible to estimate future skills needs and adapt them better to the jobs available on the labour market, including the blue growth agenda; recalls that, as part of the national strategies for digital skills, developed by Member States in the framework of the New Skills Agenda, it is important to provide adequate funding for educational institutions to ensure the development of the full range of digital skills that individual and companies need in an increasingly digital economy; calls on the Commission to assess and evaluate the financing and investment needs as regards overcoming the digital skills gap;

27.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with a Green Paper on inequality and how it is hampering economic recovery; encourages it to analyse and assess this issue as a first step towards proposing political solutions, and to take immediate action to reverse this trend so as to reduce inequalities and poverty, and increase social cohesion;

28.  Calls on the Commission to revise the Equal Treatment Directive and launch the legislative procedure for a directive following the 2014 Commission Recommendation on pay transparency with a view to eliminating the persistent gender pay gap;

Horizon 2020

29.  Recognises the enormous added value of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework programme for Europe; calls on the Commission to act upon its mid-term evaluation and take Parliament’s resolution into consideration; urges the Commission to continue working towards simplification while minimising barriers to participation and ensuring the highest socio-economic returns – both short-term and long-term – for all parts of the programme, and to work towards an ambitious proposal for the next framework programme; stresses that building synergies with the ESI Funds is needed to bridge the innovation gap within the EU;

A more efficient and multimodal transport policy

30.  Calls on the Commission to implement Article 3 of Regulation 551/2004 establishing a single European upper flight information region (EUIR) and to develop a connectivity index on the basis of other existing indices and the exploratory work already carried out by Eurocontrol and the Airport Observatory;

31.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with guidelines on the timing and instruments to ensure the development of a European approach to rail freight noise; urges the Commission to continue supporting the development of innovative technologies focused on moving more freight from road to rail (Shift2Rail);

32.  Urges the Commission to come forward with a proposal aimed at harmonising the different national legislations in order to enhance the establishment of the European internal market for road transport; calls on the Commission, wherever legitimate, to take the necessary measures against national laws distorting the European single market;

33.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with an integrated and harmonised legislative proposal for the roll-out of connected and automated driving, by enabling cross-border test facilities, drafting proportionate European legislation regarding liability, privacy and data protection and supporting public-private initiatives;

34.  Calls for concrete maritime measures to reduce discharges of ship-generated waste and cargo residues into the sea and to improve the availability and use of facilities in ports to receive ship waste; urges the Commission to support the development of innovative technologies with a special focus on autonomous shipping;

35.  Calls on the Commission to swiftly deliver a multimodal package to ensure an integrated approach to transport policies, which should also include provisions for passenger rights and integrated door-to-door mobility for passengers and freight; asks the Commission to step up its attention to and support for the digital transformation of the multimodal transport sector (e-Documents) and to initiate the deployment of multimodal infrastructure and services along the TEN-T networks;

A DEEPER AND FAIRER ECONOMIC AND MONETARY UNION

36.  Welcomes the Commission’s initiative to enhance cooperation with Parliament in the field of competition; calls on the Commission to continue and strengthen that practice and to consider the application of the ordinary legislative procedure in competition policy, in particular where fundamental principles and binding guidelines are concerned;

37.  Calls on the Commission to come up very rapidly with concrete proposals in the field of retail financial services, noting that retail finance in the EU should work in the interests of citizens and provide better products and more choice on the market;

38.  Calls on the Commission to take effective measures within the framework of the European Semester to ensure that Member States implement the country-specific recommendations and structural reforms in order to modernise their economies, increase competitiveness and tackle inequalities and imbalances;

39.  Urges the Commission to speed up the work on the completion of a Capital Markets Union (CMU), in order to help unleash investment in the EU to create growth and jobs; calls on the Commission to come forward with proposals that improve the business environment in the EU in order to attract more foreign direct investment;

40.  Calls on the Commission, in accordance with Parliament’s resolution of 12 April 2016 on the EU role in the framework of international financial, monetary and regulatory institutions and bodies(1), to streamline and codify the EU’s representation in multilateral organisations and bodies with a view to increasing the transparency, integrity and accountability of the Union’s involvement in those bodies, its influence, and the promotion of the legislation it has adopted through a democratic process;

41.  Calls on the Commission to foster growth by building on a three-dimensional approach aimed at reinforcing investment and financing innovation, including through the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and the CMU, conducting structural reforms to modernise economies and setting a common policy mix;

A CONNECTED DIGITAL SINGLE MARKET

42.  Is concerned by the delays taken by some of the legislative proposals contained in the Digital Single Market Strategy; considers that the EU institutions should not lose the momentum of the strategy and devote every possible effort to delivering and adopting the relevant proposals; asks the three institutions, at the time of its mid-term review, to commit at the highest level to giving them priority treatment in the legislative process so that citizens and businesses can benefit from their results;

43.  Welcomes efforts to develop and modernise the EU’s intellectual property laws, in particular in the area of copyright, in order to render them fit for the digital age and facilitate cross-border access to creative content, thereby creating legal certainty while protecting authors’ and performers’ rights; calls on the Commission to base any legislative initiative to modernise copyright on independent evidence as to the impact on growth and jobs, particularly as regards SMEs in this sector, access to knowledge and culture, intermediary liability, the open internet, fundamental rights and potential costs and benefits for the creative and cultural sectors; considers that copyright should maintain its primary function, which is to allow creators to gain rewards for their efforts through others making use of their work, while harmonising the exceptions and limitations in the field of research, education, preservation of cultural heritage and user generated content ; stresses that the important contribution of traditional methods of promoting regional and European culture should not be hampered by modernisation of reform proposals;

44.  Reiterates its calls for proposals to develop the potential of the cultural and creative sector as a source of jobs and growth; stresses, in this connection, the importance of enforcing as well as modernising intellectual property rights (IPR), and urges the Commission to follow up on its action plan to combat IPR infringements, including a review of the IPR Enforcement Directive, which is out of step with the digital age and inadequate to combat online infringements, and also to follow up on the Green Paper on chargeback and related schemes in the context of a potential EU-wide right to retrieve money unwittingly used to purchase counterfeit goods; calls on the Commission to further strengthen the remit of the EU Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, and welcomes its establishment of a group of experts on IPR enforcement;

45.  Calls on the Commission to ensure the preservation of the internet as an open, neutral, secured and inclusive platform for communication, production, participation and creation, and as a provider of cultural diversity and innovation; recalls that this is in the interests of all EU citizens and consumers and will contribute to the success of European companies globally; emphasises the need to ensure the rigorous application of the net neutrality principle as adopted in the ‘Connected Continent package’;

46.  Urges the Commission to come up with a notice and takedown directive in order to prevent the fragmentation of a digital single market, which would increase legal clarity by harmonising the procedures and safeguards for internet platforms and their users to take down content; stresses that the EU needs an effective due-process architecture to protect citizens from arbitrary content removals;

47.  Calls on the Commission to continue its efforts to secure the swift implementation of the EU e-Government Action plan and calls on the Commission to report back, after the launch in 2017 of the Once-Only Principle large-scale pilot project for businesses and citizens (TOOP);

A DEEPER AND FAIRER INTERNAL MARKET WITH A STRENGTHENED INDUSTRIAL BASE

The single market

48.  Regrets that the Commission has not listened so far to the repeated calls for the creation of a strong single market pillar within the European Semester, with a system of regular monitoring and identification of country-specific barriers to the single market, which have tended to be introduced lately with a greater impact, frequency and scope in Member States;

49.  Reiterates, therefore, its request to the Commission to issue recommendations focused on removing single market barriers in the country-specific recommendations; calls for an in-depth evaluation of single market integration and internal competitiveness; insists that the evaluation of the state of single market integration should become an integral part of the economic governance framework;

50.  Asks the Commission to focus its work on the implementation of the Single Market Strategy and in particular the legislative proposals for a Single Digital Gateway, which should be proposed without delay, and for a Single Market Information Tool; recalls in this context that, in its resolution on the Strategy, Parliament underlined that regulatory differences between Member States regarding differing labelling or quality requirements create unnecessary obstacles to the activities of suppliers of goods and to consumer protection, and to assessing which labels are essential and which are not essential for ensuring consumer information, and regrets that the Commission has not taken any steps in the matter;

51.  Calls on the Commission, with the support of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and the national regulatory authorities, to closely monitor the effects of the abolition of retail roaming surcharges from 15 June 2017, in particular the correct implementation and enforcement of the directive with regard to exception schemes, the evolution of data consumption patterns and the retail tariff plans available; urges that the impact of correct implementation of the voluntary fair use policies will have to be assessed;

52.  Urges the Commission to adopt as a matter of urgency the proposal for a revised Commission implementing regulation on deactivation standards and techniques for ensuring that deactivated firearms are rendered irreversibly inoperable; reminds the Commission that its adoption of this new proposal was one the conditions for Parliament adopting the Firearms Directive and asks the Commission, therefore, to deliver without delay in order to close security loopholes and strengthen deactivation regimes in the EU;

53.  Reminds the Commission that the adoption of the Directive on network and information security was a first step that was needed but that cannot be considered sufficient in the medium and long term; asks the Commission to make sure that Member States abide by its provisions and to prepare the ground for a revision of the directive as soon as possible in order to reach a higher level of operational and strategic cooperation between the Member States;

Consumer rights

54.  Considers that the ongoing evaluation of the Consumer Rights Directive is an important step towards ensuring that the directive has achieved its objectives and that the anticipated impacts, as described in the original impact assessment accompanying the proposal for the directive, have materialised;

55.  Underlines the need to complete the REFIT Fitness check of consumer law in time so that its results can still be used within this legislative term and that it includes the results of the evaluation of the Consumer Rights Directive;

56.  Is concerned by allegations that qualitative characteristics of food as well as non-food products that are sold in the single market under the same brand and same packaging and with the use of other marketing texts could differ between Member States; asks the Commission to look into this question more closely;

A RESILIENT ENERGY UNION WITH A FORWARD-LOOKING CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY

57.  Calls on the Commission, following the adoption of various Energy Union, energy efficiency, market design, renewable energy and other energy-related legislative proposals and communications, to focus its attention on ensuring that Member States fully implement these; considers that, in cases where legal obligations are clearly not being met, the Commission should launch infringement procedures, the aim being to build a genuine Energy Union;

58.  Urges the Commission to complete as soon as possible its already delayed review of the legislation on CO2 emissions from cars and vans and from heavy duty vehicles, and to table legislative proposals for a fleet average emissions target for 2025 in line with the commitments made in the context of the agreement between the co-legislators in 2013;

59.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the EU maintains its leadership role in the implementation and enforcement of the Paris Agreement; asks the Commission to propose Union-wide measures complementary to the EU’s commitment to a 40 % cut in domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with a view to the 2018 facilitative dialogue under the agreement; urges the Commission to prepare a mid-century decarbonisation strategy consistent with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, including intermediate milestones to ensure cost-efficient delivery of the EU’s climate ambitions; calls on the Commission also to evaluate the consistency of current EU policies in relation to the objectives of the Paris Agreement, including with regard to the EU budget, the phasing-out of fossil fuel subsidies and ocean governance, especially with regard to the importance of the ocean for our climate; calls on the Commission to develop measures to support an orderly transition to a low-carbon economy in order to mitigate the systematic economic risks associated with high-carbon financial assets; expects the Commission to ensure that the work programme reflects the Sustainable Development Goals by putting sustainability at the core of economic policy and reiterates the importance of fully implementing the 7th Environmental Action Programme 2014-2020;

60.  Urges the Commission to bring forward without any delay the initiatives listed in the Circular Economy Action Plan, including in the areas of product policy and food waste, and to monitor the progress towards a circular economy in the framework of the EU semester;

61.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal on environmental inspections – fully respecting the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality – in order to step up the implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and standards;

Agriculture and fisheries policies

62.  Stresses the important role that sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors play in ensuring food security in the EU, providing jobs and improving environmental standards, and equally underlines the potential of European agriculture in contributing to climate change policies through innovation and adoption of policies which enhance the carbon sequestration potential of European agriculture;

63.  Calls on the Commission to simplify the implementation of the CAP and to cut red tape in order to increase its efficiency, alleviate the administrative burden on agricultural entrepreneurs, and make room for innovations that are indispensable for a forward-looking, competitive European agriculture sector; asks the Commission to ensure that the principle of better regulation is included in the upcoming CAP reform proposal which should provide more room and financial incentives for innovation in agriculture aimed at ensuring long-term food security in the EU, reducing agriculture’s impact on biodiversity and increasing its climate resilience;

64.  Calls on the Commission to make proposals to urgently address the continued loss of natural capital in Europe and to review existing policies, in particular the CAP, with a view to meeting the objectives of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy;

65.  Stresses the urgency and importance of taking action against the persistently growing threat of increased antimicrobial resistance, since this can have an enormous impact on citizens’ health and productivity as well as on the Member States’ health budgets; calls on the Commission, therefore, to come forward with a proposal for an EU action plan on how to implement in the Union the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance; calls on the Commission also to enhance measures already applied in the current Action Plan against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to ensure the consistent implementation thereof by all relevant parties;

66.  Reiterates that, in order to ensure the timely and proper implementation of the common fisheries policy adopted in 2013, the Commission must continue to come forward with legislative proposals for the adoption of renewed multiannual management plans for fish stocks;

67.  Highlights the importance of the strong control system laid down in the Control Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 of 20 November 2009), which modernised the EU’s approach to fisheries control in line with the measures adopted to combat illegal fishing; calls on the Commission to undertake a comprehensive follow-up and to propose, if necessary, their revision with a view to addressing shortcomings and ensuring proper implementation and enforcement;

68.  Considers that illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing is a form of organised crime on the seas, with disastrous worldwide environmental and socio-economic impacts and therefore calls on the Commission to take all necessary action against non-cooperating countries and all organisations contributing to IUU fishing;

TRADE

69.  Emphasises its support for an ambitious and values-based trade agenda which will strengthen the global rules-based system and contribute towards jobs and growth in Europe; welcomes, in this connection, the Commission’s efforts to conclude negotiations with Japan and to push ahead with other ongoing negotiations, such as with Mexico and Mercosur, as well as aiming to commence new ones with, for example, Australia and New Zealand and trying to unblock other negotiations, such as those with India;

70.  Calls on the Commission to reinvigorate the post-Nairobi WTO discussion, since multilateral trade negotiations must remain a priority matter for the EU even when they prove difficult; considers that it would also be worthwhile to look into new areas and issues within the WTO framework, such as digital trade, and welcomes the international initiatives taken by the Commission on investment protection;

71.  Stresses that the modernising and strengthening of the Union’s trade defence instruments is as a matter of urgency and of the utmost importance;

A STRONGER GLOBAL ACTOR

72.  Calls on the Commission to advance with setting up the European Defence Fund, which would encompass adequate funding for both collaborative research on defence technologies and the acquisition of joint assets by the Member States; encourages the Commission to step up the enforcement of the two directives framing the single market for defence and to come up with an initiative on development of shared industry standards for equipment and assets;

73.  Urges to Commission to pay particular attention to the rising tension in the Western Balkans and to seek ways to enhance the EU’s engagement in favour of reconciliation and reforms in all of the countries concerned;

74.  Commends the Commission for its emphasis on the Neighbourhood Policy, both eastern and southern, but underlines that the policy must acquire a more political content, notably through a combination of increased financial assistance, reinforced democracy support, market access and improved mobility; stresses that the policy needs to clearly identify areas of action in order to better address the challenges which the neighbouring countries are facing;

75.  Calls on the Commission to prioritise digitalisation as an integral part of the EU´s foreign policy instruments and to embrace it as an opportunity such as by leading in the fields of internet governance, people´s human rights online, state norms in cyberspace, cybersecurity and freedom online, access and development, digital literacy and net neutrality;

76.  Stresses that the promotion of, and respect for, human rights, international law and fundamental freedoms must be a central common denominator across EU policies; calls on the Commission not to neglect the importance of protecting human rights in the context of counter-terrorism measures; urges the Commission to actively continue pushing for human rights to be implemented effectively through all agreements, in particular the trade, political dialogue and cooperation and association agreements subscribed by the EU, in particular the so-called ‘democracy clause’ and Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement; calls on the Commission to make a clear monitoring of the human rights situation in the countries with which the EU has agreements;

77.  Calls on the Commission to continue to work to help ensure accountability for war crimes, human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including the confirmed use of chemical weapons; expresses its continued grave concern at the deliberate restrictions that are put in the way of the provision of humanitarian aid and reiterates its call on the Commission to make every possible effort to help ensure that full, unhindered, safe and sustainable country-wide humanitarian access for the UN and other humanitarian organisations is secured in countries where it is needed;

78.  Calls on the Commission to put forward an implementation plan for the revised European Consensus;

79.  Urges the Commission to show ambition in its updated EU Global Strategy and to better position the EU in a rapidly changing world to deliver the institutional and policy changes for the effective implementation of the Agenda 2030; calls on the Commission also to come forward with a proposal for an overarching Sustainable Development Strategy, encompassing all relevant internal and external policy areas, including the UN process, a detailed timeline up to 2030, a concrete implementation plan and a specific procedure ensuring Parliament’s full involvement and to provide information regarding the plan for implementation, monitoring, follow-up and incorporation of the 2030 Agenda into the EU’s internal and external policy;

80.  Emphasises its support for an ambitious External Investment Plan (EIP); believes that the implementation of the upcoming European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) and the EU Trust Fund for Africa will be key in assessing the effectiveness of current efforts; calls on the Commission to give an active and effective impulse to the EU’s external policy; stresses that the EU should be a major actor that provides efficient responses to the challenges that Europe is facing, in order achieve the SDGs by 2030 and address the root causes of irregular and forced migration;

81.  Recalls the need to review the Humanitarian Aid Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1257/96 of 20 June 1996), in order to make the EU’s humanitarian assistance more efficient and compliant with international humanitarian law, especially in view of the urgent need for comprehensive action against famine and to ensure a sustainable future for the millions of people affected by conflicts or natural or man-made disasters, as well as for education in the context of protracted crises;

82.  Calls on the Commission to increase its efforts to safeguard the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls throughout the world, and to guarantee that the Global Gag Rule will not restrict EU humanitarian aid funds and the work of foreign family-planning organisations that the EU is funding;

83.  Calls on the Commission to present a legislative proposal on accompanying measures for the ‘Conflict Minerals Regulation’ (2014/0059(COD)) in line with the relevant Joint Communication (JOINT (2014) 8);

84.  Calls on the Commission, given the global nature of the garment industry and of its shortcomings in terms of improving worker’s conditions, to go beyond the presentation of a staff working document on the flagship initiative on the garment sector and to present a legislative proposal for due diligence obligations in the supply chain in the garment sector;

85.  Calls on the Commission to assist developing countries in combating fraud and tax evasion through the establishment of a comprehensive and binding framework;

86.  Calls on the Commission to take an ambitious approach in the context of the future negotiations for the Post-Cotonou Agreement with a view to a binding agreement, tailored to the new realities, with a strong political dimension and an economic development dimension, and oriented towards a framed market economy and inclusive growth;

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89.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

General Market

Vital Marine Habitats Being Destroyed by Illegal Fishing Practices, Harmful Subsidies, Speakers Warn at United Nations Ocean Conference

Speakers in the United Nations Ocean Conference today tackled ways to combat illegal fishing practices that were destroying vital marine habitats, as well as eliminate the $35 billion in harmful subsidies that had led to overfishing, distorted markets and chronic mismanagement of the world’s fisheries.

In a morning partnership dialogue on “Making fisheries sustainable”, panellist Karl Brauner, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said trade negotiations in the area of harmful fisheries subsidies were referenced in Sustainable Development Goal 14.6.  The World Trade Organization was in intense negotiations to come up with agreed language on the prohibition of subsidies at its December Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires.

He said questions hinged on how to identify such behaviour without converting WTO into a fisheries-management organization, citing other challenges around providing “special flexibilities” to developing countries to support poor fishers without undercutting those disciplines.  Fisheries sometimes represented the only source of employment, which made forgoing the right to Government assistance a major challenge.

Panellist Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), agreed that harmful subsides could be stopped through WTO.  Multi-stakeholder and targeted support to help coastal communities get their products to market would meanwhile encourage “blue growth”, he said, adding that FAO was prepared to help develop a plan to rebuild fisheries.

On the issue of illegal fishing, Oumar Guèye, Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Economy of Senegal, who co-chaired the meeting, said the problem should be addressed by a global coalition.  For its part, Senegal had toughened sanctions against vessels illegally fishing its waters, impounding and fining them $300 million and seizing repeat offenders.  It also had taken a biological inventory to ensure that species could regenerate, established marine protected areas and ratified the Port State Measures Agreement.

In the ensuing discussion, representatives of Government, industry and civil society exchanged ideas for addressing those problems, with Norway’s representative stressing that illegal fishing amounted to “stealing from dinner tables”.  Vanuatu’s delegate cited a lack of international cooperation to address subsidies that incentivized overfishing in regional waters, while the representative of the Republic of Korea, meanwhile, was one of several who pointed to the Port State Measures Agreement as a way to deter those practices.

A speaker from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation said marine resources had declined mainly because of industrial fishing operations that used bottom-trolling and dredging techniques.  She recommended designating coastal areas for small-scale fishers and banning harmful fisheries subsidies.

In the afternoon, the Conference held a partnership dialogue on “Increasing economic benefits to small island developing States and least developed countries and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets”.  Co-Chair Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, opened the discussion with a call for more investment in marine technology and an embrace of broad-based wealth creation.  Small island developing States could not wait for technology handouts.  “We need to build on our own institutions, our own scientists, our own intellectual properties and our own entrepreneurs,” he declared, pointing out that in Grenada, mobile apps now helped fishers sell their catch in international markets.

Along similar lines, Marko Pomerants, Minister for Environment of Estonia, who also co-chaired the meeting, said empowering local communities was essential.  Estonia had granted special status to island communities, where fishing was integral to traditional cultures and livelihoods.  Cooperative associations had helped to improve market access.  “There is strength in numbers,” he said, enabling small operators to pool resources and improve purchasing power.

The Conference will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 8 June.

Partnership Dialogue I

In the morning, the Ocean Conference held a partnership dialogue on the topic “making fisheries sustainable”.  Moderated by Anthony Long, Director, Ending Illegal Fishing Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and co-chaired by Dominic LeBlanc, Minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Coast Guard of Canada, and Oumar Guèye, Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Economy of Senegal, it featured a panel discussion by Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO); Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, Director of Global Fisheries and Aquaculture, Monterey Bay Aquarium, United States; Karl Brauner, Deputy Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO); and Milton Haughton, Executive Director, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism Secretariat.

Mr. LEBLANC said Canada was a proud maritime nation, with fisheries and aquaculture contributing $9 billion to its economy each year, generating countless jobs in rural, coastal and indigenous communities.  The fisheries sector provided the backbone for many national and small-scale economies.  Noting that sustainable fisheries were key to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said “we need to make a more concerted effort to tackle such things as illegal fishing, underreporting and harmful subsidies that result in over-capacity.”  With international action as the common goal, WTO provided the venue and means to achieve enforceable fisheries subsidies rules.  Fisheries management played an important role in conservation and had led to positive biodiversity outcomes, with a range of measures that protected to single stocks and the ecosystems upon which they relied.  Those conservation objectives must be incorporated into fisheries management plans.  Marine protected areas were an essential component of sustainable fisheries management.  Canada had adopted a milestone to conserve 5 per cent of its waters by the end of 2017, as a sign of its commitment to conserving 10 per cent by 2020.  Describing Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change as “unwavering”, he also underscored the importance of its partnerships with provincial and territorial governments, indigenous peoples, environmental groups and industry in advancing the marine conservation agenda.

Mr. GUÈYE said Senegal was a country of fisheries, with 6,000 actors working in that sector and 75 per cent of people’s animal protein needs coming from fish and marine life.  “Senegal is very interested in sustainable fisheries,” he said, pointing to a law that reserved space for artisanal fisheries, within which large industrial fisheries were prohibited.  In the south, all vessels were banned from approaching the coast.  Senegal also had revised its fisheries code, which now allowed for trout to be fished at 40 centimetres, rather than 20 centimetres, with the greater depths allowing more time for the fish to multiply.  Underscoring the need to combat large-scale fishing, he said another aspect was to combat illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, which should be addressed in the most appropriate manner by a global coalition.  Senegal had toughened sanctions against vessels illegally fishing its waters, impounding and fining them $300 million, and seizing repeat offenders.  The Government also had taken a biological inventory to ensure that species could regenerate, established marine protected areas, acceded to a forum that ensured transparency in the fisheries industry, and ratified the FAO Port State Measures Agreement.  “We have high hopes for this meeting,” he said, and for strong measures to be taken.

Mr. MATHIESEN said fisheries today faced many different problems.  Three, however, stood out, and if they were tackled and solved, other problems would be easier to resolve.  Those three problems included illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; the difficulty of managing migrating fish stocks on the high seas and in sovereign coastal waters; and improving the status of coastal fishing communities in developing countries, including small island developing States.  Several factors drove those problems, including an estimated $35 billion in harmful subsidies, population growth, poverty, economic and forced migration, climate change and unprecedented levels of climate events.  Solutions would include improved science-based local, national and regional fisheries management, while illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing could be addressed through existing instruments.  Strong regional management models were in place, but they required political, scientific and financial support.  Harmful subsidies could be stopped through WTO.  A multi-stakeholder and targeted approach to support coastal communities and get their products to market would meanwhile encourage “blue growth”, he said, adding that the FAO was prepared to help develop a blueprint to rebuild fisheries.

Ms. KEMMERLY said that, about 20 years ago, non-governmental organizations launched a movement that sought to create market demand for sustainable seafood which involved, among other things, encouraging businesses to use their market leverage to improve policy, traceability and social responsibility.  For the non-governmental organization community, sustainability was not just an environmental matter, but also a question of social responsibility.  While mainly focused so far in the United States and the European Union, the sustainable seafood movement was growing in other places, such as Brazil, Japan and South-East Asia.  She went on to describe efforts being made with regard to tuna, with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation engaged in reporting, conservation and traceability measures, and with shrimp, a sector that would require making sustainability profitable for hundreds of thousands of smallholders in South-East Asia.

Mr. BRAUNER said trade negotiations in the area of harmful subsidies were referenced in target 14.6.  It was natural that WTO, the only organization with binding rules and subsidies, and a conceptual approach, was the venue for subsidies negotiations.  WTO fisheries subsidies work had been reenergized by target 14.6, with proposals coming in to fulfil WTO’s part of that target.  WTO was in a period of intense negotiations with proposals from least developed countries, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group, European Union, a group of Latin American countries, New Zealand and Indonesia, all pushing hard for a binding decision to be made at the December ministerial conference.  There was emerging convergence on the prohibition of subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, referred to in target 14.6, and on the prohibition of subsidies for overfished stocks.  Questions hinged on how to identify such behavior, without converting WTO into a fisheries-management organization.  Some developing countries did not want fisheries-management references in the treaty, whereas others said that without such points, subsidies discipline would be impossible.

Another challenge, he continued, was how to provide “special flexibilities” to developing countries to support poor fishers and develop their own fisheries, without undercutting those disciplines.  WTO’s business was about trade flows and products produced on land.  Those taking place under water involved internationally shared resources or those outside national jurisdiction.  For such reasons, the effect of subsidies was not on trade in fish products, but rather on access to resources, with an indirect effect on trade.  Fisheries sometimes represented the only source of employment, which made forgoing the right to Government assistance a major challenge.  Target 14.6 represented a commitment by all Governments — individually — to eliminate harmful fishery subsidies.  In parallel, there was a WTO process under way to achieve a multilateral agreement prohibiting illegal fishing.  There was a possibility for that outcome this year, representing WTO’s contribution to meeting the 2020 date for eliminating the most harmful fishing subsidies.  Such an agreement could undergird individual Government fisheries subsidies reform, which in turn, should facilitate multilateral agreement.

Mr. HAUGHTON said the benefits of creating sustainable fisheries depended on how States implemented governance and management reforms to conserve and protect the marine environment.  “This is undoubtedly the single most important challenge for fisheries in this generation,” he said, noting that the Caribbean Sea was semi-enclosed, representing one interconnected marine ecosystem.  Stocks were shared between two or more States, and in some cases, extended into the high seas.  Cooperation was fundamental for fisheries management.  Caribbean Governments in 2002 had established a regional fisheries body to facilitate cooperation and conservation of fisheries resources.  It was comprised of a ministerial council, a fisheries forum, a permanent secretariat and a number of technical and scientific working groups.  There were three other fisheries bodies that were in the region.

He said small island developing States had multispecies fisheries served by small, open vessels, noting that most commercially important stocks in the region had been over-exploited, while others had not significantly contributed to economic development.  Despite that catches over the last decade were 30 per cent lower than the 30-year average, the overall production trend had been positive.  The regional fisheries management bodies were investing more of their own resources to harmonize their practices.  Partnerships had grown among small-scale operators.  Partnership between and among the three main fisheries bodies had taken the form of formal cooperation agreements to strengthen fisheries management.  More broadly, such partnerships had helped “enormously” in transitioning the region towards sustainable fisheries management.

In the ensuing discussion, Heads of Government, ministers, other senior officials and representatives of Member States, international organizations and civil society covered a wide range of fisheries-related issues, from illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries to zone-based fisheries management and the little-mentioned place of Caribbean sport fishing.

SEREMAIAH MATAI NAWALU, Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Bio-security of Vanuatu, said managing Pacific fisheries through monitoring, control and surveillance efforts, particularly against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, remained a big battle for the Pacific region.  There was also a lack of international cooperation to address subsidies that incentivized overfishing in regional waters.  Tackling those problems and others required a multilateral and integrated approach.

ENELE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, underscored an urgent need for capacity-building, legislation and enforcement measures.  Expressing concern over the weak management of high-seas fisheries, he called on partner nations to adhere to zone-based fisheries management approaches.  He added that an ongoing process under United Nations auspices was required to ensure a commitment to healthy oceans.

TONE SKOGEN, State Secretary of Norway, said illegal fishing amounted to stealing from dinner tables.  The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, which recently came into force, would make illegal fishing less attractive.  Due to continuous research, annually revised regulations and enforcement, Norway’s commercial fish stocks were in good condition.

The representative of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency recommended zone-based management as a way to empower States to better manage their marine resources while promoting sustainable development.  Noting that Pacific Island countries had a long history of cooperation and investment, he said data-sharing, collaborative asset deployment and other forms of partnership had made a difference in the level of illegal tuna fishing in the region.

The representative of the British Virgin Islands said not much was said about sport fishing, but that activity involved valuable species that were important to marine ecological systems.  He outlined a number of measures being taken in that regard by the territory, including a strengthened licensing regime, assessing the impact of the number of vessels on the water, and controlling the number and duration of fishing tournaments.  He went on to reiterate the British Virgin Island’s commitment to protect reefs and sharks.

Mr. BRAUER, on that point, replied that it was a matter of choosing the most appropriate format for the region.

The representative of the Republic of Korea stressed that the Port State Measures Agreement would help deter illegal fishing.

The representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis said his country comprised some 50,000 people, living on 104 square miles of land surrounded by the Caribbean Sea.  He described a strategic plan for the Government, working with various stakeholders, to chart the course for making fisheries sustainable, by underscoring the need for greater participation among all stakeholders, and more attention to disaster risk management.

The representative of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation said 90 per cent of fishers were in the small-scale sector, which provided half of the world’s catches and more than 60 per cent of fish for human consumption.  Marine resources had declined mainly because of industrial-scale fishing operations.  Underscoring the importance of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries, she said large-scale, non-selective fishing was the greatest negative impact on the marine habitat, much of it conducted through bottom-trolling and dredging, which destroyed fish habitats.  Those practices must be tackled by designating coastal areas for small-scale fishers, and banning harmful fisheries subsidies, including for fuel.

The representative of Iceland said the Government was marking the ocean floor in its exclusive economic zone using multibeam techniques, efforts that were vital to the sustainable use of marine life.  She highlighted Iceland’s commitment on the adoption of formal fisheries management plans, stressing that in the international context, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was the main framework for sustainable management, as long as States met their obligations and worked together.

The representative of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) said its cooperation with law enforcement in the Caribbean had led to the arrest in July 2016 of a vessel carrying out illegal fishing.  Through “Project Scale”, INTERPOL agents in Lyon, with experience in fisheries crime, carried out criminal analysis of illegal fishing activities, which were often linked to human trafficking.  INTERPOL offered a holistic approach, providing and reading notices, and sharing information on the modalities of fisheries crime.  There was also a secure network that linked States and provided investigative support to certain cases.

The representative of Spain underscored the need to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, which he called a “blight” on the seas that destroyed the profitability of companies that complied with rules and regulations.

The representative of Friends of Marine Life said coastal communities in India had been pursuing sustainable fishing practices for centuries, employing traditional knowledge.  However, mega-projects were threatening their livelihoods, he said, identifying — among other challenges — the problems posed by bottom trawling, breakwater construction and overfishing by large vessels supported by large business lobbies.

The representative of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said the elimination of harmful subsidies was central to the multilateral trade agenda.  Fish subsidies contributed to distorting market prices, encouraged unfair competition and expanded inequality between developed and developing countries.  With attention to the issue gaining momentum, he said Member States should work towards a common text for the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires.

The representative of Indonesia said there should be a designated body to ensure that the right of oceans to be protected was not bothered by political change or agendas.  The high seas meanwhile needed to be better managed so that distant-country fishing did not harm resource sustainability, she said, adding that the General Assembly should, in its resolutions, acknowledge transnational fisheries crimes.

MARCELO MENA, Minister for Environment of Chile, said his country was specifically combatting illegal fishing and working actively to eliminate harmful subsidies.  In its opinion, stronger international cooperation and regulation — within the framework of existing multilateral agreements and regional fisheries management associations — was needed.  It was vital, he added, to know more about the effects of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture and to set out plans accordingly.

The representative of the Marine Stewardship Council said its certification and labelling programmes for seafood caught in the wild provided an incentive for other fisheries to improve their performance.  Putting the size of the market for certified and traceable seafood products at $5 billion, he said credible certification had an important contribution to make to address the problem of overfishing.

Also speaking today were ministers and representatives of Thailand, Gabon, Marshall Islands and Sweden.

Representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO), World Bank, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and Vulcan, Inc., International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Comunidad y Biodiversidad and World Economic Forum also spoke.

Partnership Dialogue II

The afternoon featured a dialogue partnership titled “increasing economic benefits to small island developing States and least developed countries, and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets”.  Moderated by Meg Taylor, Pacific Ocean Commissioner, it featured presentations by Mohamed Shainee, Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Maldives; Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, United Nations; Laura Tuck, Vice-President for Sustainable Development, World Bank Group; and Mitchell Lay, Coordinator of Caribbean Network Fisherfolk Organization.  The dialogue was co-chaired by Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, and Marko Pomerants, Minister for Environment, Estonia.

Mr. MITCHELL said the issue of jobs and livelihoods that allowed economies to capture more economic value was a common thread for today’s discussion.  “I feel strongly that we need more investment in marine technology,” he said, applicable to small island developing States and least developed countries alike.  On one hand, States must ensure that artisanal fishers were custodians of their marine resources and sustainably reaping the economic benefits.  On the other hand, they must reduce pressures on the resources by providing alternatives and more rewarding livelihoods for coastal communities.  In Africa, for example, mobile phones allowed fishers to check market prices while at sea, leading to better prices for fish, less wastage and more environmental conservation.

Similarly in Grenada, he said mobile apps now helped fishers sell their catch in international markets.  “To lift our people, we must embrace broad-based wealth creation through innovation and technology,” he said, underscoring Grenada’s commitment to the Blue Innovation Institute, which would be a hub for innovation in coastal planning, natural capital enhancement, aquaculture and biotechnology.  Indeed, the size of small islands should be seen as a distinct advantage.  Those countries should be viewed as large ocean States.  He urged embracing the optimism around blue growth, and the idea that, by 2030, such economies had the potential to outpace global economic growth.  Small island developing States could not wait for technology-transfer handouts.  “We need to build on our own institutions, our own scientists, our own intellectual properties and our own entrepreneurs,” he declared.

Mr. POMERANTS said Estonia, a small eastern European country, was roughly the size of the Dominican Republic, with 1.3 million people.  It boasted a maritime area almost as large as its mainland, with one of the world’s longest coastlines per capita and some 1,200 islands.  Small-scale coastal fisheries were an important part of its cultural heritage, and as a sea-faring people, “you can find an Estonian in every port in the world”.  Estonia was sharing its best practices through technology transfer and capacity-building.  The key to sustainability lay in a holistic and integrated framework.

Given the transboundary nature of ecosystems, he said the best results had been achieved by regional marine governance frameworks that facilitated cooperation.  His region’s organization — HELCOM — facilitated marine research, with policies based on the best scientific data.  To improve access for small-scale artisanal fisheries, empowering local communities was essential, he said, stressing that Estonia had granted special status to island communities, where fishing was integral to traditional cultures and livelihoods.  To improve market access, his country had achieved success through cooperative associations.  “There is strength in numbers,” he said, enabling small operators to pool resources and improve purchasing power in terms of price setting.  Community involvement was instrumental to achieving Goal 14, he said, noting that Estonia’s reputation as a digital pioneer could help other countries redefine governance through its e-governance platform.  To ensure sustainable fisheries management, an online fishing permit system had been set up, which today issued 90 per cent of recreational licenses.

Ms. TAYLOR said that, as a Pacific Islander, she hailed from a region dominated — depending on one’s point of view — by small island developing States or big ocean-stewardship States, where the importance of coastal fisheries could not be overstated.  Fishing was a primary source of protein, fish consumption was among the highest in the world and inshore fisheries provided income for 50 per cent of all households.  The interactive discussion could be informed not only by Goal 14, but by other Goals, such as eradicating poverty, ending hunger, gender equality and combating climate change.

Mr. SHAINEE said “we don’t talk about issues facing oceans nearly enough”, yet few places depended on oceans more than small island developing States.  Today’s partnership dialogue theme thus addressed what those States could do in their own backyards.  Discussing the situation in Maldives, he attributed the success of its tourism industry — which accounted for 28 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) — to the recognition of its natural heritage as its biggest asset.  Resort development was regulated with a view to protecting the environment, with architecture blending into the natural surroundings.  Upon determining that shark tourism produced more revenue than shark fishing, Maldives declared its entire exclusive economic zone as a shark sanctuary.  Turning to tuna, he said that by catching them on a one-by-one basis, Maldives had created one of the world’s leanest and greenest fisheries which recognized that consumers would pay more for sustainably harvested products.  More tuna meant more sharks and healthier reefs, which attracted tourism, with the benefits multiplying accordingly, he said.

Ms. ‘UTOIKAMANU said Goal 14 was important for nations in special situations such as least developed countries and small island developing States where millions of people depended on marine resources for nutrition and livelihood.  Noting that the national fishing capacity of small island developing States was limited, she emphasized the importance of ongoing cooperation with distant water fishing nations and the international community at large.  Countries in special situations were meanwhile vulnerable to external shocks, as well as rapid population growth, urban congestion, climate change and imported food and energy.  Long-term efforts could be undone in a matter of hours, she said.  Turning to the tourism sector, she said it was critical for small island developing States and least developed countries, having lifted some of the latter into middle-income status.  Tourism could help States meet several Sustainable Development Goals, but if not properly managed, it could degrade the environment.  Water scarcity was another concern, as peak tourist seasons often coincided with dry seasons.  Managing water resources would require a package of relevant measures, but with the right set of incentives and regulations, water management could be improved for all.

Ms. TUCK discussed the Bank’s “Sunken Billions” report which found that, because of overfishing, global fisheries forego more than $80 billion a year, compared to an optimal scenario.  It examined what would happen if fishing was reduced by 44 per cent over an unspecific period of time.  It found that the biomass of fish would almost triple.  Fish would be larger and have a higher value.  If fishing was reduced by 5 per cent annually for 10 years from its 2012 level, the optimal level would be achieved by 2030.  “Sunken billions” referred to the mismatch between increasing fishing efforts and the declining catch.  Giving the oceans a break would lead to increased catch and increased income at the local level.  “We need good governance and capable institutions to ensure that changes are sustainable,” she said.  For example, after decades of being prices takers, the parties to Nauru Agreement gathered in 2008 to use their huge tuna resources as leverage in the Vessel Day Scheme to reduce the fishing effort.  Through a $40 million Pacific region ocean project, the Bank was working to strengthen their capacity and ensure those gains were sustained.  In Kiribati, the financial institution’s technical assistance was helping the Government collect revenue from access fees paid by vessels into an $800 million sovereign wealth fund.  In all such cases, the Bank was supporting measures to enforce tenure rights, and ensure that fishing communities and operators were involved in decisions on fisheries management.

Mr. LAY recommended that States recognize and enhance the contributions of small-scale fisheries to their economies, as well as promote and ensure the security of tenure, in line with the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries.  To enhance productivity, he recommended looking at how to sustainably use the significant — but either un- or under-utilized — ocean resources of many small island developing States, which could supply local populations with adequate food.  Addressing marketing and value-added aspects, he said the entire fish often was not used, which translated to suboptimal food and economic benefit.  Energy production and related activities should be carefully considered so as not to negatively impact small-scale fisheries.  Further, Governments should consider expanding local market access, as small island developing States often produced less than they consumed and lacked effective local marketing mechanisms.  Access and governance issues must be grounded in local realities, especially when considering marine protected areas, which limited small-scale fisheries access.  Similarly, tourism should not negatively impact small-scale fisheries, and conversely, the linkages between fisheries and tourism should be deepened in the context of food and recreational activities, while promoting local livelihoods.  He also advocated support for the development of small-scale fisheries organizations.  “This is the precondition for meaningful participation in the decision making process,” he said.  “If we create spaces for participation, States should carve out support for small-scale fisheries to fill those spaces.”

In the ensuing discussion, participants explored ways to support small island developing countries and, more specifically, access of their small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets.

BARON WAQA, President of Nauru, said countries that benefited from the exploitation of his nation’s tuna stocks must do more to share the burden that such fishing entailed.  Artisanal fishers could be supported through enhanced access to resources and markets, he said, adding that Nauru sought to establish long-term and productive partnerships that would unlock the full potential of sustainable ocean development.

The representative of Seychelles said his country had pioneered a financial instrument to raise $15 million in capital from private investors interested in putting money into sustainable development, including marine conservation, fisheries governance and the diversification of value chains.

The representative of Australia discussed her country’s official development assistance (ODA) in the Indo-Pacific region, including a programme that would support Pacific Island countries to delineate their maritime boundaries.  Another initiative would provide support to prevent and deter illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

The representative of Rare said the next 10 years must focus on community-led solutions and small-scale fishers, many of whom were women.  His non-governmental organization was committed to mobilizing $100 million to support the sustainability of small-scale fisheries.

GALE RIGOBERT, Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development of Saint Lucia, said international quota management mechanisms must act in a way that did not disadvantage small island developing States.  Noting that only so much could be achieved without appropriate assistance, she said genuine, mutually beneficial and durable partnerships were needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The representative of the International Renewable Energy Agency described the “SIDS [small island developing States] Lighthouse” initiative to transform energy systems and help those States integrate renewables into their energy mix.  The agency saw big opportunities in ocean energy technology and had recently updated its patent study.

The representative of New Zealand said 60 per cent of the global tuna catch was harvested in the Pacific region.  Yet, Pacific nations received only a small proportion of the market value of that resource.  New Zealand had invested $54 million to improve sustainable fish management and address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, notably working with the Cook Islands to set up a catch quota system.  She urged countries to cooperate in the establishment of effective WTO disciplines on harmful subsidies.

The representative of Denmark said there were 406 islands in her country, and its marine resources were an integral part of the economy.  Since 2007, Denmark had allocated more fish stocks to coastal fishermen.  More broadly, small island developing States’ dependence on fossil fuels was unsustainable.  As such, Denmark had helped create the SIDS DOCK Support Program, establishing stations to connect small islands’ energy centres — notably in the Seychelles, Mauritius, and Sao Tome and Principe — with global markets.

The representative of the Commonwealth Secretariat said 45 of its 52 members were island States, where fish constituted more than 50 per cent of exports.  She called for addressing harmful subsidies that distorted markets, stressing that national maritime resources had been extracted by third parties without sufficient financial capture on behalf of the State and its citizens.  She proposed the creation of a Blue Commonwealth Charter, which would apply to sustainable oceans economic development, stressing that truly blue economic development must be done in a way that preserved ocean health.

The representative of Conservation International announced a voluntary commitment on social responsibility in global fisheries and aquaculture, as well as a financing commitment for community-managed conservation mosaics along Colombia’s Pacific coast.  Called La Minga — or “Everyone Together” — it would combine community, national and regional budget allocations and a $5 million endowment.

The representative of Papua New Guinea said the ocean and its resources offered food security and jobs for 15,000 people in his country, 80 per cent of whom were women.  Papua New Guinea was engaged domestically, regionally and globally, particularly as a party to the Nauru Agreement.

The representative of FAO drew attention to the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, adopted in 2014.

The representative of India said his country’s assistance to small island developing States and littoral least-developed countries included capacity-building, such as the provision of satellite-based information that promoted more efficient fishing.  He added that, to ensure better market access for artisanal fishers, sanitary trade barriers should be addressed under the aegis of WTO.

The representative of Trinidad and Tobago said her country had adopted globally recognized approaches and tools to alleviate conflicts between artisanal fishers and offshore oil and gas activities.  She also discussed efforts to exploit lion fish for economic benefit by training and incentivizing fishers to target that invasive species and to encourage its consumption by the general public.

The representative of the International Whaling Commission said her organization was studying the impact of whale-watching on individual whales, their population and habitats.  It had also developed a web-based whale-watching handbook to provide relevant information to operators, regulators and the public that included maps, information on species and case studies to assist decision-making.

Also speaking today were ministers and representatives of the Solomon Islands, Madagascar and Kiribati.

Representatives of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Indigenous peoples’ and community conserved territories and areas Consortium, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), CORDIO East Africa, The Nature Conservancy, French Polynesia, Pacific Island Association of Non-Governmental Organizations and the International Seabed Authority also spoke.

General Market

Ocean Conference

Note:  A complete summary of today’s Ocean Conference meeting will be available after its conclusion.

Partnership Dialogue I

In the morning, the Ocean Conference held a partnership dialogue on the topic “making fisheries sustainable”.  Moderated by Anthony Long, Director, Ending Illegal Fishing Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and co-chaired by Dominic LeBlanc, Minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Coast Guard of Canada, and Oumar Guèye, Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Economy of Senegal, it featured a panel discussion by Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO); Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, Director of Global Fisheries and Aquaculture, Monterey Bay Aquarium, United States; Karl Brauner, Deputy Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO); and Milton Haughton, Executive Director, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism Secretariat.

Mr. LEBLANC said Canada was a proud maritime nation, with fisheries and aquaculture contributing $9 billion to its economy each year, generating countless jobs in rural, coastal and indigenous communities.  The fisheries sector provided the backbone for many national and small-scale economies.  Noting that sustainable fisheries were key to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said “we need to make a more concerted effort to tackle such things as illegal fishing, underreporting and harmful subsidies that result in over-capacity.”  With international action as the common goal, the WTO provided the venue and means to achieve enforceable fisheries subsidies rules.  Fisheries management played an important role in conservation and had led to positive biodiversity outcomes, with a range of measures that protected to single stocks and the ecosystems upon which they relied.  Those conservation objectives must be incorporated into fisheries management plans.  Marine protected areas were an essential component of sustainable fisheries management.  Canada had adopted a milestone to conserve 5 per cent of its waters by the end of 2017, as a sign of its commitment to conserving 10 per cent by 2020.  Describing Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change as “unwavering”, he also underscored the importance of its partnerships with provincial and territorial governments, indigenous peoples, environmental groups and industry in advancing the marine conservation agenda.

Mr. GUÈYE said Senegal was a country of fisheries, with 6,000 actors working in that sector and 75 per cent of people’s animal protein needs coming from fish and marine life.  “Senegal is very interested in sustainable fisheries,” he said, pointing to a law that reserved space for artisanal fisheries, within which large industrial fisheries were prohibited.  In the south, all vessels were banned from approaching the coast.  Senegal also had revised its fisheries code, which now allowed for trout to be fished at 40 centimetres, rather than 20 centimetres, with the greater depths allowing more time for the fish to multiply.  Underscoring the need to combat large-scale fishing, he said another aspect was to combat illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, which should be addressed in the most appropriate manner by a global coalition.  Senegal had toughened sanctions against vessels illegally fishing its waters, impounding and fining them $300 million, and seizing repeat offenders.  The Government also had taken a biological inventory to ensure that species could regenerate, established marine protected areas, acceded to a forum that ensured transparency in the fisheries industry, and ratified the FAO Port State Measures Agreement.  “We have high hopes for this meeting,” he said, and for strong measures to be taken.

Mr. MATHIESEN said fisheries today faced many different problems.  Three, however, stood out, and if they were tackled and solved, other problems would be easier to resolve.  Those three problems included illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; the difficulty of managing migrating fish stocks on the high seas and in sovereign coastal waters; and improving the status of coastal fishing communities in developing countries, including small island developing States.  Several factors drove those problems, including an estimated $35 billion in harmful subsidies, population growth, poverty, economic and forced migration, climate change and unprecedented levels of climate events.  Solutions would include improved science-based local, national and regional fisheries management, while illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing could be addressed through existing instruments.  Strong regional management models were in place, but they required political, scientific and financial support.  Harmful subsidies could be stopped through the WTO.  A multi-stakeholder and targeted approach to support coastal communities and get their products to market would meanwhile encourage “blue growth”, he said, adding that the FAO was prepared to help develop a blueprint to rebuild fisheries.

Ms. KEMMERLY said that, about 20 years ago, non-governmental organizations launched a movement that sought to create market demand for sustainable seafood which involved, among other things, encouraging businesses to use their market leverage to improve policy, traceability and social responsibility.  For the non-governmental organization community, sustainability was not just an environmental matter, but also a question of social responsibility.  While mainly focused so far in the United States and the European Union, the sustainable seafood movement was growing in other places, such as Brazil, Japan and South-East Asia.  She went on to describe efforts being made with regard to tuna, with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation engaged in reporting, conservation and traceability measures, and with shrimp, a sector that would require making sustainability profitable for hundreds of thousands of smallholders in South-East Asia.