The EU Commission has ordered Denmark to spend €6m it has reimburst to the Member State’s EMFF on fisheries control
The European Commission has announced the reimbursement of European Maritime and Fishery Funds (EMFF) of approximately 45 million DKK (€6million) to Denmark but have ordered the Member State to use it on fisheries control.
The funds are being released on the condition that the monies will be used to pay for the implementation of various governmental projects on fisheries control, such as IT development of a new quota concentration system and a new fishery control ship.
Funding was withdrawn by the Commission due in part to the National Audit Office’s report from October 2018 on grants in the fisheries sector and partly to the Commission’s own supplementary opening letter of January 2019 on the basis for quota write-off, including incorrect registration and reporting of all quantities of fish caught and stored unsorted on board in Danish fisheries for pelagic and industrial species. The Commission then considered that the two cases indicated deficiencies in the fisheries control and therefore chose to withhold the said EU subsidies to the sector.
Since the suspension of payments in September 2019, the Danish Fisheries Agency has been in close dialogue with the Commission on the conditions for the funding to be restored. The Commission’s criteria for lifting the suspension on the payments were, among other things, that Denmark adjusts its enforcement and documents compliance with the EU’s control regulation on a number of points.
In continuation of the cases in question, the Danish Fisheries Authority has carried out a large amount of follow-up work. Amongst other things, it involves the establishment of a new administrative basis with regard to the implementation of EU rules on the allocation of points for serious violations of the Common Fisheries Policy and on the basis for quota write-offs and the sanctioning of violations in pelagic and industrial fisheries in Denmark.
The Commission considers that the Danish Fisheries Agency has taken appropriate measures to follow up on the identified deficiencies and that green light can therefore be given to disburse the funds withheld.
That does not mean that the two cases are completely closed. As soon as the COVID-19 situation permits, the Commission will visit Denmark with a view to inspecting the new set-up in practice. In addition, a number of outstanding points cases still have to be finalized before the element can be completed.
However, the aim is that the cases can be closed by the end of 2020 and with the payment of the funds retained, an important milestone has been reached in the Danish Fisheries Agency’s recovery work – as well as it marks the Commission’s satisfaction with the initiatives.