How the EU budget is spent: European Maritime and Fisheries Fund

Written by Magdalena Sapala, Jean Weissenberger,

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The €6 396.6 million European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) may be the smallest of the European Structural and Investment Funds for the 2014-2020 period, but it is the principal financial tool supporting the EU common fisheries policy (CFP). Governed by Regulation 508/2014, (the EMFF Regulation), the Fund aims at providing the EU and the Member States with the financial means to underpin the objectives of the current common fisheries policy, as reformed in 2013. In this regard, the fund continues the succession of specific EU financial instruments created to support the EU fisheries sector since 1994. A small part of the EMFF now also aims at supporting an integrated maritime policy (IMP) for the EU.

About 90 % (€5 749 million) of the EMFF is spent under shared management, which involves both the European Commission and the Member States. The distribution of the fund between the Member States was decided according to several criteria (such as levels of employment and production, and share of small coastal fishing fleet). The largest beneficiary of the fund is Spain, followed by France, Italy and Poland.

The EMFF addresses six main Union priorities:

  • Promoting sustainable fisheries (e.g. through ensuring a balance between fishing capacity and available fishing opportunities, reduction of the environmental impact of fisheries, and improvement of safety and working conditions);
  • Fostering sustainable aquaculture (e.g. through innovation and technological development, professional training, environmental protection, animal health and welfare, and public health and safety in aquaculture);
  • Fostering the implementation of the common fisheries policy (notably through improving the science base, and support for control and enforcement);
  • Increasing employment and territorial cohesion (e.g. through the promotion of job creation, and support for employability and labour mobility, including diversification of activities);
  • Fostering marketing and processing of fishery and aquaculture products (by improving market organisation and encouraging investment in these sectors);
  • Fostering the implementation of the integrated maritime policy.

It also provides for additional compensation for the EU’s outermost regions.

Slightly less than half of the fund under shared management is allocated to promoting sustainable fisheries and to fostering sustainable aquaculture (see figure)

Figure: EMFF contribution to Union priorities (shared management)

EMFF contribution to Union priorities (shared management)









Roughly 10 % (€648 million) of the total EMFF budget in 2014-2020 is spent under direct management by the European Commission or, on its behalf, by the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). This contributes to developing the Union’s integrated maritime policy and to facilitating the implementation of the common fisheries policy and the integrated maritime policy.

Read the complete briefing on ‘European Maritime and Fisheries Fund’.

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