Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia Press Release - 12 June 2018

More money more problems - Commission chooses harmful subsidies and less paperwork over saving the marine environment

Today, the European Commission released its proposal for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The Commission removes “red tape” and in the process weakens its environmental ambitions and removes safeguards to prevent Member States from subsiding overfishing. Harmful subsidies are now even more easily accessible, putting the already at risk marine life in higher threat.

The new proposal sees the removal of ‘red tape’, which will inevitably have devastating effects on the environment. Under the current funding structure, which started in 2014, Member States have consistently complained about red tape hindering them from using money as they see fit. In reality, the “red tape” was accountability, transparency, and environmental measures put in place to ensure that the European fund is used to support European society as a whole, and not national interests. 

These calls have clearly fallen on deaf ears, most likely as a result of the Commission’s rushed revision process, which did not allow time for a thorough public consultation. Instead the Commission now contradicts its own position in the WTO, by supporting purchases of boats for small scale sectors, paying fishers to stop fishing, as well as subsidising other parts of the sector. Furthermore, it intends to directly subsidise other maritime sectors such as aquaculture production without any clear criteria for determining whether production is harmful to the environment.

BirdLife Europe is calling for the complete overhaul of this fund as it is fails to deliver on societal needs – especially with prioritising tackling the challenges at sea. In particular, the fund should be spent on data collection, control and enforcement of rules, supporting spatial planning such as mapping the sensitivity of species and habitats to different maritime activities, and testing solutions to problems.

Bruna Campos, EU Marine and Fisheries Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe:

“Public money should be spent for public goods. It is outrageous that in times when we are seeing budget cuts, the Commission is reopening the door to subsidising overfishing with EU tax payers money. We now look to the European Parliament and the Council to take make sure that this fund will be spent to tackle societal needs.”


For more information please contact:

Bruna Campos, EU Marine and Fisheries Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe
+32 478 88 6420



  • BirdLife Europe’s position paper “For an EU budget serving nature and people” outlines in detail what is required for a health marine environment and is available here.


BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organisations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to deliver high impact and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that compose BirdLife International. Based in Brussels, it supports the European and Central Asian Partnership and is present in 47 countries including all EU Member States. With more than 4100 staff in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of skilled volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 nature sites totalling 320,000 hectares.