Spanish crew members working on the deck of a fishing trawler (Photo: courtesy CEPESCA)
Fishing will remain the yardstick of the Brexit deal
Friday, October 16, 2020, 08:00 (GMT + 9)
Another key issue for the fisheries sector is the EU negotiations with the United Kingdom on Brexit, which are at a critical stage as Europe and London should close an agreement on fisheries in the coming weeks, in order to be ratified in time for its entry into force on January 1, 2021.
In this sense, Cepesca considers that linking the fishing agreement to the commercial agreement has been a fundamental point for the negotiation and fears that fishing will become an element of last consideration in the negotiation, as on other occasions. In the opinion of the affected Spanish industry, as well as their European colleagues associated with the European Fisheries Alliance (EUFA), the link between trade and fisheries treaties has not yet been used with all the force that is assumed. In his opinion, while this link has served to alienate the United Kingdom of its most maximalist claims, it has not been used to compensate for any of the many concessions that the EU will wisely make to the UK in other areas such as finance.
According to Javier Garat, “this is not the time to listen to siren songs like those that come from Great Britain, such as the possibility of a transitory period or the possibility of agreements on access and multi-year fees. The reality - adds Garat - is that a transitional period does not say anything if the destination is not known, and multi-year agreements would only serve to postpone the problem, since at the end of the first period the British claims would return and this time there would be no commercial agreement to balance negotiating positions ”.
In the opinion of the sector, it is time to reaffirm itself in all aspects of the EU's negotiating mandate and stand firm as its terms are fair and balanced for both parties. The judgment of the sector, a good example of this is that it does not require the United Kingdom to return the 26% increase in its quotas that occurred when the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was established in 1983 and with it the hackneyed principle of relative stability. This increase, the sector points out, forced countries such as Denmark and Sweden to hand over a large part of their fishing rights in order to freely access British waters. On the contrary, and depending on the sector, the mandate only requests the maintenance of the current situation and not, as would be pertinent, return the rights acquired as a member of a club once it is decided to unsubscribe.
According to Garat, “taking into account that there are 88 Spanish-flagged vessels that, with around 2,150 crew members, have the possibility of fishing in the UK's fishing grounds, we are at stake in these negotiations. Therefore, it is important to get a good agreement that benefits all parties. It gives us the impression that fishing will continue to be the yardstick of the Brexit agreement, so that both the government of Spain, as well as the rest of the Member States and the European Commission itself must continue to defend the negotiating mandate of the UE and play all the available cards ”.