Commission Ireland Penalty Points

The Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Ireland over its failure to fulfil an obligation to implement penalty points for fisheries infringements

Last week, the European Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Ireland over its failure to fulfil its obligations under Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009.

Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 which is also known as ‘’Control Regulation” establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The Commission claims that specifically, Ireland has failed to comply with European Union rules on establishing a point system for fisheries-related serious infringements committed by masters and licence holders of vessels flying the flag of Ireland.

The introduction of the penalty point system for fisheries-related serious infringements has been a difficult task for the Irish Government and in particular for Michael Creed, TD who was then Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Three attempts were made to bring about a Statutory Instrument to sign the points system into law; in 2014, 2016 and 2018 respectively, and three times the points system has failed to be implemented. 

The European Commission has required member states to have the points system in place since 2012 and since then it has suspended over €7 million in funding to Ireland as a result of its failure to establish a points system.

The points system would apply to the licence holders of fishing vessels when a serious infringement of the rules of the CFP is detected within Ireland’s 200-mile exclusive fishery zone. The penalty points would have to apply to all fishing vessels – both Irish and foreign boats deemed guilty of infringing the regulations on fisheries.

The Commission considers that Ireland has not established a system that assigns an appropriate number of points to masters of fishing vessels who commit serious violations of the common fisheries policy rules.

It has also failed to put into operation the current national legislation implementing the point system for licence holders.

Therefore, on Thursday 2 June,  the Commission has issued a reasoned opinion to Ireland which now has three months to address the failures otherwise, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

It is likely that the new Minister for the Department, Barry Cowen will have to address the issue of penalty points and will be seeking to have a new Statutory Instrument signed into law by the end September.