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2018 audit of the Irish fishing control system and ongoing discussions with the Commission

Question écrite de Mme Maria WALSH - Commission européenne

Question de Mme Maria WALSH,

Diffusée le 25 juillet 2021

Subject: 2018 audit of the Irish fishing control system and ongoing discussions with the Commission

In 2018, the Commission carried out an audit in Killybegs, which identified ‘severe and significant weaknesses in the Irish control system’. Ireland subsequently received a formal decision outlining the Commission’s intention to conduct an administrative inquiry to evaluate Ireland’s capacity to apply the rules of the common fisheries policy. The findings of that audit identified irregularities, subsequently confirmed by the administrative inquiry, which revealed that Ireland has failed to ensure the effective implementation of the control plan in accordance with the obligations arising from Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009.

Under the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act of 2006, all operational issues of this nature concerning sea fisheries control are, as a matter of law, exclusively for the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and the Naval Service. Therefore, the Minister is precluded from getting involved in those matters and the documents are unavailable for public viewing.

1. Is it normal process that the audits that the Commission conduct are not for public viewing?

2. What is the current state of discussions on the control plan between the Irish authorities and the Commission?

3. According to the Commission, what would be necessary for the control plan to be reinstated?

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 13 octobre 2021

Answer given by Mr Sinkevičius on behalf of the European Commission (14 October 2021)

1. In application of Article 101 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 (1) (‘Control Regulation’), which provides that final audit reports conducted under that provision are only published on the secure part of its official website, the Commission does not publish audit reports. When there is a request for access to such document, the Commission assesses the request in accordance with the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, taking into account the case-law of the Court of Justice of the EU, in particular in relation to the need to protect the purpose of audits and investigations as provided for in Article 4(2), third indent of this regulation. Finally, if audit reports contain data communicated by a Member State pursuant to the Control Regulation, Article 113(2) and (3) prohibits, in principle, the disclosure of such data without the prior consent of that Member State (2).

2. Following the Commission’s decision to revoke the Irish control plan (3), the Irish authorities have informed the Commission about their intent to submit a new control plan pursuant to Article 61(1) of the Control Regulation for approval. The Commission services will review the modified plan once received.

3. Article 61(1) of the Control Regulation provides a derogation to the general rule that fishery products must be weighed at landing. The derogation is granted on the condition that Ireland adopts a control plan in accordance with the risk-based methodology described in Annex XXI to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 404/2011 (4) and such plan is approved by the Commission. To that end, the Commission will evaluate whether the new Irish control plan is in line with the criteria set out in this Annex, thus addressing the shortcomings identified in the audit.


⋅2∙ Judgment of 3 May 2018, Malta v Commission, T-653/16, EU:T:2018:241, paragraphes 153 and 154



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