Southern European countries seek EU help for fishing sector
France, Italy, Portugal and Spain will propose lifting EU aid ceilings for the fishing sector to combat high fuel prices.12 June 2008
PARIS - France, Italy, Portugal and Spain will propose lifting EU aid ceilings for the fishing sector and setting up a special fund to counter the impact of high fuel prices, French Fisheries Minister Michel Barnier said on Thursday.
Ministers from the four countries, and "several others" would send a letter to the European Commission in the coming days making the proposals so that it could be debated by EU fisheries ministers at a June 23 meeting in Luxembourg.
"We have given an initial response at the national level," said Barnier, referring to a series measures announced in January for French fishermen.
"But that's not enough. The fuel question and the impact of energy on the fishing sector have to be addressed at the European level," he added, speaking with a group of Brussels-based journalists ahead of France's EU presidency starting in July.
"With my Spanish, Italian, Portuguese colleagues and others we are going to ask the commission to hold a debate on the question, for example of lifting the level of aid currently allowed for boats in Europe because we've got ceilings that are too low."
He said other ideas included "creating a special fund to take account of fuel prices, and modernising fishing quotas as well."
Fishermen have led waves of protests across Europe recently against soaring fuel prices, leaving governments struggling to find ways of helping to ease the pain.
[AFP / Expatica]