Hudghton (Greens/EFA) - Mr President, just this once I shall resist the temptation to lambast the Commission and the Council for their contributions to the crisis facing the white fish sector in Scotland. I can assure fellow Members that there certainly is a major crisis of confidence in the European Union's ability to manage fisheries at all. However, I will concentrate my remarks tonight on the main and most important purpose of the resolution which accompanies this question, that is, the social and economic consequences arising from the decisions made at the December Fisheries Council. Businesses are already feeling the pain from the interim cod recovery measures: not just the fish-catching sector, but whole communities. It is predicted that the long-term recovery plan will continue to inflict real economic and social hardship. I hope, therefore, that this House will unite in support of this resolution, calling for up to EUR 150 million of additional EU funding - and 'additional' is the important word here. This amount would be in addition to Member States' commitments, constituting a fund to help offset the widest possible range of economic and social consequences that the European Union fisheries management decision will inflict. My preference would be to aim for the use of the flexibility instrument for this. Not so long ago, as has been pointed out, the political will of this House and the Council, following the loss of fishing rights in Moroccan waters, established such a fund following a similar highly concentrated downturn in activity. There will have to be detailed discussion of plans and priorities for the use of such a fund, but I certainly hope that this week we will take the first step towards setting it up. I call upon the UK Government to abandon its previous resistance to taking part in such a process.

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