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Commercial Fishing



Leaked EU fishing rights statement adds to May’s pressure. The EU will be declaring that the post-Brexit negotiations over fishing rights in UK waters will build on the current arrangements hated by the British fishing industry, at this weekend’s Brexit summit, adding to the pressure on Theresa May, according to an article in The Guardian.

In a leaked  EU statement, it states that it must protect the current rights of European fishing fleets to exploit British waters and expects a deal to be agreed by July 2020

It also warns that failure by the British government to come to an agreement could put any hope of extending the transition period in jeopardy.

An extension is likely to be needed by the British government to allow trade talks to develop, and to avoid the backstop arrangements for Northern Ireland kicking in, which would see a regulatory border drawn between it and the rest of the UK.

The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is extremely unpopular with the UK fishing industry, which wants Britain to be negotiating quota rights and access as an independent coastal state by the end of 2020.

David Mundell and the other 13 Conservative party’s Scottish MPs, warned the prime minister last week that anything less than this would be a “betrayal of Scotland”.

It is estimated that 33% of the catches of the rest of the European fishing fleet are caught in the UK’s exclusive economic zone.

Theresa May has insisted the “the fisheries agreement is not something we will be trading off against any other priorities”.

But the 26-page political declaration published on Thursday did make a link between European access to British waters and the terms of a wider economic deal.

The leaked EU statement, to be issued by the 27 heads of state and government, goes even further in undermining Theresa May’s claim.

The document, which also asserts the EU’s intention to keep the UK “dynamically aligned” to its environment policies, including its climate change targets under the Paris 2030 agreement, says the EU “will demonstrate particular vigilance on the necessity to maintain ambitious level playing field conditions and to protect fishing enterprises and their communities”.

The statement says: “As recalled in the withdrawal agreement, a fisheries agreement is a matter of priority and should build on, inter alia, existing reciprocal access and quota shares. Such an agreement will be negotiated before the end of the transition period.

“When the union position to be taken in the joint committee relates to the extension of the transition period and the review of the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, the council will act in accordance with the European guidelines.

“Any decision on the extension of the transition period will take into account the fulfilment of obligations by the United Kingdom under the agreement, including its protocols.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has said that the inclusion of such language in the political declaration had been explicitly rejected and there was no commitment to maintaining existing access.

However, the EU’s stated intention will bind its negotiators during the talks in the transition period, and the threat to block an extension of the transition period will heighten the political temperature around the issue.