The EAPO has released a statement on it position on EU autonomous tariff quotas (ATQs) for certain fishery products for the period 2021-2023.
As the Commission is starting to prepare the new set of autonomous quotas to replace those established in Regulation 2018/1977, the EAPO has expressed concern that the ATQ regulation does not reflect the full scale of tariff free fish and fisheries products imported into the EU through third countries trade agreements and the General Scheme of Preferences.
Pim Visser, President of the EAPO said “We find it important that an overall picture of the free trade possibilities is assessed before decisions are taken on ATQs. Overall EAPO is of the opinion that EU producers and processors should strive together to convince EU consumers to purchase more EU fishery products.
“Generally, we are not opposed to a tariff free environment in principle, but this should also be based on maximising internal procurement.
“First, it is a topical matter of food security. The COVID19 crisis has shown the fragility of supply chains and the importance of favouring locally produced food. Second, sustainability of food products is one of the key components of the new Farm to Fork Strategy of the Green Deal, as explained in the Roadmap published on the 17th February 2020.
“Imports from third countries benefiting from ATQs, in addition to their transport greenhouse gas emissions, do not automatically follow as strict sustainability standards as the EU local products do.
“Furthermore, ATQs should also ensure that the differences between the EU fishers, operating in one of the most regulated fisheries of the planet and with top of the class socioeconomics and environmental standards, and third countries fisheries are considered. This last point is crucial to ensure a true level playing field and fair competition.
“Therefore, there should be EU production preference, using the TAC and quota system as a reference to analyse the potential need for ATQs. We are convinced that the profitability of the EU fisheries sector and the well-being of many EU coastal communities can be substantially improved if this would be taken into account when deciding on free trade volumes. EAPO finds that no products should be added to the new regulation compared with the current one and an overall decrease is required for the current products. EAPO recommends that for the period 2021-2023, reductions should be applied for products quotas when ATQs of the previous years have been underutilised.
“After several requests to the Commission to obtain utilisation information we have received data for 2019. Based on this and earlier experiences we recommend amending the ATQs that are not fully used, as shown in the table below.
“Also, further reductions should be applied when the imported products risk harming EU producers’ marketing opportunities (either because they are similar products or products used as alternatives). A decrease of ATQs is likewise recommended where EU TAC have increased, and stocks are in a particularly good state.”