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EUROPEAN FISHERIES DISCUSSIONS ON BREXIT

EUROPEAN FISHERIES DISCUSSIONS ON BREXIT

European fisheries discussions on Brexit. On February 19, the European Parliament Committee Fisheries held an exchange of views with a Commission Representative on two legislative proposals laid down by the EU to tackle a non-deal situation and its impact on the EU’s fishing fleet.

In case the UK decides to close its waters to EU vessels, the committee has put forward a new provision expanding the use of “temporary cessation” in the context of Brexit. Temporary cessation is included in the current EMFF and it has been conceived as a reaction for ceasing of fishing opportunities in relation to threats to stocks or conservation.

On fishing authorisations, the committee wants to ensure that the EU is able to give UK boats access to European waters until the end of 2019, provided that EU vessels are granted reciprocal access. In this situation the Commission proposal aims to make the authorisation procedure much simpler.

Members of the EU Committee on Fisheries have declared that additional funding would be needed to compensate Member States affected by Brexit. However, the committee also made it clear that member States will also have to provide their own funding support.

President Juncker and Prime Minister May met last week to take stock of their efforts to deliver the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU, in line with the process launched by them on 7 February.

Their discussions covered:

  • which guarantees could be given with regard to the backstop that underlines once again its temporary nature and give the appropriate legal assurance to both sides. Both reconfirmed their commitment to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland and to respect the integrity of the EU’s internal market and of the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister acknowledged the EU’s position and notably the letter sent by President Tusk and President Juncker on 14 January. She welcomed the continued engagement of Task Force 50 with her team;
  • the role alternative arrangements could play in replacing the backstop in future, where they tasked the Commission’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and Secretary of State Stephen Barclay with considering the process the European Commission and the UK will follow; and
  • whether additions or changes to the Political Declaration can be made that are consistent with the EU and UK Government positions and increase confidence in the focus and ambition of both sides in delivering the future partnership envisaged as soon as possible. The Commission’s Chief Negotiator and the Secretary of State will follow up.

The two leaders agreed that talks had been constructive, and they urged their respective teams to continue to explore the options in a positive spirit. They will review progress again in the coming days, seized of the tight timescale and the historic significance of setting the EU and the UK on a path to a deep and unique future partnership.

President Juncker and Prime Minister May agreed to talk again before the end of the month.

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