Foreign Minister Ossur Skarpheainsson has condemned the possible sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands. (Photo: EC)
EU gets serious about sanctions against Iceland, Faroes
Friday, May 18, 2012, 23:30 (GMT + 9)
Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson has condemned the possible sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands being discussed within the European Union (EU) at the meeting of the European Economic Area (EEA) Council this week. The EU is considering the move because of the countries’ dispute with Norway and EU member states on their share of the joint mackerel fishing quota.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries and Denmark on behalf of the EU, Fréttablaðið reports.
“I criticized the resolution of the fisheries committee of the European Parliament and the draft that has been presented on possible actions that may be taken against Iceland and the Faroe Islands,” Össur said, Iceland Review reports.
The quarrel is expected to escalate next year when the EU introduces a trade ban on Icelandic and Faroese fish imports. EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki said she would execute a ban once she had pushed an enabling regulation via the EU.
He said he had clearly stated that Iceland opposes overfishing and wants to reach a solution on the matter.
But Damanaki disagrees.
“Iceland and the Faroes have put unilateral quotas in place and they are not co-operative at all. There is no scientific foundation on which they can base their decisions,” the fisheries comissioner said, The Grocer reports.
“We’ll absolutely need this for next year. We cannot afford the next season to go as it has gone in the past three years,” she added.
The EU’s proposed regulation will go to a parliamentary plenary session next month. It would “provide the EU with the means to take effective measures against states not co-operating in good faith in the adoption of agreed management measures.”
Össur thinks some of the actions up for debate clash with the regulations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), of which Iceland is party, and especially Article 9 in the EEA agreement.
“I said it was not to raise the credibility of the EEA on the agreement’s 20th anniversary if the EU is to take illegal actions against us in the mackerel dispute. I said I couldn’t believe they would actually go through with it,” Össur continued.
He was pleased to say he believes his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Støre implied in his speech that any actions taken would be in compliance with the EEA agreement.
The last round of mackerel talks failed in February. According to the European Commission (EC), the EU and Norway had submitted three series of proposals since autumn 2011, but neither Iceland nor the Faroe Islands made proposals.
The EC agreed to expedite trade sanctions against Reykjavik after Ireland and the UK expressed their concerns in March. The sanctions would target Icelandic and Faroese mackerel products and the sale of fishing technology to the EU.
- EC fast-tracks sanctions against Iceland, Faroes over mackerel dispute
- Latest round of mackerel talks fails
By Natalia Real
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member European Commission - Fisheries and Maritime Affairs