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The Evolution of the Common Fisheries Policy: Governance of a Common-Pool Resource in the Context of European Integration


  • Lukas Schweiger


This paper seeks to analyse the evolution of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as a Community tool for the management of a common-pool resource in the context of European integration. The theoretical framework, comprising different levels of analysis, employs European integration theories (Neo-Functionalism and Liberal Intergovernmentalism), paradigms of fisheries management (conservation, economic and social/community) and the concept of common goods. Spillover contributed to the development of the two pillars of the original policy, the structural policy and the common market organisation, which was complemented by a resource conservation regime and a common external policy regarding fisheries. Also, the European Court of Justice has played a significant role in confirming the supremacy of Community law in this field. At the same time, domestic interests in several Member States led to the extenuation of Commission proposals and to perennial stalemates, also due to the Luxembourg Compromise and especially in negotiations on distributive matters. Furthermore, since the adoption of the first CFP in 1970, overdue reforms have not been undertaken (particularly the introduction of individual transferable quotas as a market-based management tool and a definitive end to subsidising overcapacity). Partial reforms, especially concerning equal access, enshrined the status quo through repeatedly renewing derogations, thereby making them de facto permanent. The CFP has evidently failed to prevent the Tragedy of the Commons as most major fish stocks in Community waters are far below their 1983 levels, the year the common conservation regime went into effect. This trend has been exacerbated not only due to the CFP’s ambiguous objectives that stem from its common heritage with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) but also through a tendency of the policy to be oriented toward the social/community paradigm of fisheries management.

Suggested Citation

  • Lukas Schweiger, 2010. "The Evolution of the Common Fisheries Policy: Governance of a Common-Pool Resource in the Context of European Integration," Working Papers of the Vienna Institute for European integration research (EIF) 7, Institute for European integration research (EIF).
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:eifxxx:p0015

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carsten Lynge Jensen, 1999. "A Critical Review of the Common Fisheries Policy," Working Papers 6/99, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Sociology, Environmental and Business Economics.
    2. Anthony T. Charles, 1988. "Fishery Socioeconomics: A Survey," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 64(3), pages 276-295.
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    political science; neo-functionalism; integration theory; agriculture policy; intergovernmentalism; European Court of Justice; Luxembourg;

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