Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Letter from another planet

In The Times today there is a ghastly story about foreign home owners in Valenca. They are being systematically ripped-off by developers who are exploiting new property laws which enable them to expropriate land and charge for the privilege.

But what caught our eye was the comment of Charles Svoboda, a former head of intelligence for the Canadian Government, who has made his home in Valencia and is fighting to protect his property from what he calls "a form of legalised or semi-legalised theft".  "The Spanish", he declares, "don’t respect any laws until they get caught, and they do anything they can to wriggle out".

Enter right on cue, the EU commission with its 2004 "Fisheries compliance scoreboard", reporting – as the title would indicate – on the degree of compliance (or non-compliance) – with CFP rules over the preceding year.

And heading of the list for non-compliance are three countries, Belgium, the Netherlands and… you guessed it: Spain. All three were slapped down for having breached quotas in 2003 and other fisheries rules in practices which, the commission says, are threatening some species altogether. In some cases, the breaches of quotas ran to 76 percent.

Commenting on the result, fisheries commissioner Franz Fischler said: "Despite some progress, much remains to be done. Member states committed themselves to ensuring more equitable, effective and uniform enforcement. They must now deliver."

Now, is this the same France Fischler who in January of this year announced the award of the EU Fisheries Control Agency to the Spanish, to be located in Vigo, known informally as the European centre of illegal fishing? And is this the same Franz Fischler who proudly declared that the location of the agency in Vigo would "boost enforcement"?

We are not sure quite which planet Fischler was speaking from, but sure as hell, it wasn’t this one.

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