EU fuel aid plans for fishermen get cool reception
France, Spain and Portugal say proposals do not solve cost of fuel for the fishing sector.24 June 2008
LUXEMBOURG - France, Portugal and Spain poured cold water Monday on European Commission proposals to help fishermen cope with the soaring cost of fuel.
Under pressure from some EU governments, the commission last week outlined a range of measures to help fishermen, who have led waves of protests across Europe against the high fuel prices.
EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg said he favoured offering aid to fishermen who do not go out to sea over a three-month period, as part of restructuring efforts.
The commission also agreed to allow high levels of aid from member states for the sector and to be more flexible about how an EU fund for restructuring can be used.
The European Union's executive arm has long argued that the root problem facing Europe's fishing industry is overcapacity and has called for painful fleet reductions.
"The commission has brought some positive responses," French Fisheries Minister Michel Barnier told a meeting in Luxembourg. "But I think we need to go further as far as how the European fisheries fund is used."
"We're hoping for improved proposals from the commission," Spanish Fisheries Minister Elena Espinosa said.
Their Portuguese counterpart, Jamie Silva, regretted that the commission's proposals "say nothing about the cost of fuel for the fishing sector," which he said had become a "structural problem".
Borg is due to present his proposals in detail to the ministers at the meeting on Tuesday.
[AFP / Expatica]