Good intentions and bad outcomes

Besotted with its virtuous intentions the EU typically fails to monitor and adapt plans to achieve their expected goals. Fisheries is a prime example.

The goal of ever closer union has been irrelevant or damaging to what should be higher purposes. Examples of this are the damage done to several economies in the monetary union, the surpluses and higher than global prices caused by the CAP and the devastation of fish stocks under the CFP. The latter is an example of how an explicitly noble aim (preserving fish stocks) is ruined by the way the EU works.fshing

There’s an interesting parallel between the EU and one, small subset of its structure and policies: the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Devised with the best intentions it does substantial harm. The CFP’s goals include protecting fish stocks and giving countries fair access across all the EU’s seas. To achieve these a total catch size is set and divided in proportion to historic catch levels of each country before the CFP applied. One problem here is that only large vessels had been required to record their catches officially but Britain’s fleet was mostly smaller boats so achieved a miserable allocation.

The countries did their usual fighting (and cheating) to get the maximum allocation and Heath was not willing to jeopardise his entry deal against extreme French pressure by holding out over fishing, a tiny part of our GDP. The result is that EU waters are badly depleted whilst Norway’s and Iceland’s have recovered under their own management (stocks there were also in decline before the CFP).

The CFP was recently reformed (again) and perhaps it will improve at last! Other issues include the wasteful discard policy; change has taken forever. It’s an extreme but not unique example of the EU’s squabbling, corrupt, wasteful and generally futile practices; EMU is another obvious one on a far bigger economic scale. In fact when a plan isn’t working the instinctive response is to try harder (more Europe) rather than re-think the plan:

“… completing and fully exploiting the Single Market … should be part of a stronger boost towards economic union…”. (References *1)


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