|Author (Person)||Cronin, David|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.29, 19.7.01, p7|
AN EU fisheries fund worth almost €7.5 billion per year is being used to pay for catches which may never have taken place, the European Court of Auditors has declared.
In a new report, the Union's financial watchdog criticises the European Commission for paying out all-encompassing sums to support the fisheries agreements it signs with non-EU countries, without considering if the amount of certain species caught differs from that provided for by the original accords.
This anomaly means that the Commission has to bear the full cost of implementing the agreements, even when they are under-used. The auditors singled out the EU-Greenland agreement for particular criticism. In 1999, EU fishing vessels were due to take nearly 240,000 tonnes - mainly cod and redfish - from Greenland's waters. Yet a severe depletion of certain stocks meant the quantity caught was only 90,000 tonnes. "The EU has therefore paid for catches which potentially did not exist, i.e. for 'paper' fish," said the auditors.
Their study also accuses the Commission of failing to take account of an evaluation its officials conducted on the agreement in October that year, when it decided to renew the agreement in 2000.
In addition, the report found that some of the agreements allow vessel owners to pay reduced fees for licences by landing their catches in local ports to boost employment in coastal communities.
Random checks made in Morocco found that in four out of five cases examined in 1998 and 1999, European vessels had unloaded and reloaded their entire catches. The Commission blamed some of the problems on the Union's governments, saying many do not send sufficient data to Brussels to determine if targets are hit.
An EU fisheries fund worth almost €7.5 billion per year is being used to pay for catches which may never have taken place, the European Court of Auditors has declared.
|Subject Categories||Business and Industry, Economic and Financial Affairs|