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Is it advisable to pre-select the types of fisheries areas before launching the procedure for selecting the FLAGs?

The EFF Regulation allows the Member States a considerable amount of freedom to choose the best approach for their country. However, any approach chosen should comply with the provisions of Article 43(3) and (4) of the EFF which lay down the criteria for fisheries areas under Axis 4.  Member States are free to further target the scope of fisheries areas by adding additional criteria. However, Article 22 of the EFF Implementing Regulation also specifies that procedures and criteria for selecting fisheries areas must be described in the Operational Programmes. Such criteria must allow for an objective and transparent selection of areas.

The approach taken varies in different parts of the EU but in all cases the general conditions provided in the EFF Regulation apply:

  • Some countries use additional criteria to pre-select specific types of eligible areas most in need before launching the selection procedure for the FLAGs,
  • While others use only the EFF criteria with some of them having a completely open procedure where the whole country is eligible and the FLAGs themselves propose the boundaries of their area of intervention.

There are both positive and negative points associated with all approaches. For example, if the whole country or coast is eligible, then the groups themselves are able to suggest areas which correspond to “bottom up” concerns and which may be more coherent in economic, social or geographic terms.  However, there is a real risk that too many areas are chosen or the areas are too large and the budget for Axis 4 is diluted. Here targeting priority areas can help to avoid wasted effort by prospective groups for whom there is insufficient budget. It also avoids political pressure from a large number of groups to spread the budget too thinly. This is why many countries have taken this