The EU has an exclusive competence in the area of the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy (Article 3 of Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, TFEU). The powers assigned to the EU on the internal level also give the EU exclusive competence to enter into international undertakings with other States and/or international organisations for the purposes of conserving marine biological resources. The demarches undertaken by Portugal towards the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) are in breach of the exclusive competence of the EU. They have been undertaken in the context of an already on-going process at NEAFC, initiated with the full support of the EU, which aims to prevent significant impacts of bottom fishing activities on vulnerable marine ecosystems. The Commission is of the opinion that such an approach breaches EU law. If Portugal does not reply satisfactorily within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the EU.
- Publication date
- 26 January 2018
- Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries