As a signatory to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), the European Union (EU) has made a commitment to maintain or restore fish stocks to levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), and where possible not later than 2015. So how has the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) fared in trying to achieve this objective? The development of the status of 41 commercially exploited fish stocks from the North East Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic Sea (FAO Area 27) was analysed together with the economic performance of the fleets exploiting those stocks. The analyses indicate that the exploitation status for many of the stocks has greatly improved during the last 10 years while the economic performance of the fleets over the same period has been highly variable. The main economic indicators (gross value added (GVA) and operating cash flow (OCF)) have gradually improved at a time when the general economic situation, which has a great influence on the markets, costs and purchase power, has worsened. While recognizing that much remains to be done to achieve the objective of the WSSD, the analyses indicate that actions implemented in the last decade under the CFP have led to an improvement in the status of many commercially important fish stocks and their fleets towards levels that are closer to those producing MSY.