Monday 28 December 2020
Anger over Johnson’s Brexit deal
British fishermen feel “cheated”
From an economic point of view, fisheries play only a minor role in the Brexit negotiations, but Great Britain and France are exaggerating them symbolically. No fisherman will be worse off, promises British Prime Minister Johnson. Those affected see it very differently.
British fishermen feel betrayed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal. “Boris Johnson promised us the rights to all the fish swimming in our exclusive economic zone, but we only received a fraction of it,” said the head of the National Federation of Fisheries Organizations (NFFO), Andrew Locker, on BBC Radio 4. “I am angry, disappointed and feel betrayed.” Johnson had promised that no fisherman would be worse off. But now there are “a considerable number” who are far worse off than before the deal.
When the UK was still a member of the EU, fishermen could have traded with the community. “We traded things we didn’t need for fish they didn’t need. And that enabled us to set up an annual plan,” said Locker. Now the British fishermen would have to fight hard to keep their livelihoods.
From an economic point of view, fishing plays only a minor role, but it was symbolically heavily charged by Great Britain and France on the EU side and was one of the most difficult points in the negotiations on the Brexit trade pact. Ultimately, London made big concessions. European fishermen initially only have to forego a quarter of their catch quotas – over a period of five and a half years. Should London later restrict their access further, Brussels could respond with tariffs.
Farewell on December 31st
Great Britain left the EU in January and is only a member of the EU internal market and the customs union for a transitional period until December 31. Then comes the economic break. On Christmas Eve, London and Brussels agreed on the new trade agreement, which will regulate economic relations between the island and the continent from January 1st. The most important point is to avoid tariffs and ensure the smoothest possible trade. In addition to fishing, the contract also includes cooperation on energy, transport, justice, police and many other topics. Without an agreement, customs duties and costly delivery controls would be necessary.
Due to the short lead time, the EU can no longer ratify the agreement on time. Therefore, the contract may initially only be applied provisionally. However, this requires the approval of all 27 EU countries. The EU Parliament then has to examine the agreement retrospectively in January.