Withdrawal Agreement Bill Fisheries

Gentlemen, this is a truly historic bill. For the first time in 50 years, we can shape our own fisheries policy; it will be one of the few positive aspects of Brexit if we do it right. It will be a real test of the government`s approach in the negotiations between the UK and the EU. There will be a lot of pressure and pressure until December, and the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, has rightly pointed out that large shares of quotas are at stake for other EU countries and a large part of the markets for us. We must ensure that the needs of sustainable fisheries are not traded for other demands of the trade deal When the Financial Times started in October, the Financial Times summed up the state of the fisheries negotiations as « no significant progress » and that it would be « one of the very last unresolved issues: a scenario that Brussels had tried to avoid ». Frost acknowledged that when it comes to fisheries, « the gap between us is unfortunately very big and without more realism and flexibility on the part of the EU, there is a risk that it cannot be bridged. » European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said all questions were « still completely open » and downplayed the role of fisheries in postponing negotiations. [109] This is reflected in the provisions of the Draft Law on a Joint Fisheries Declaration and Individual Fisheries Management Plans. The provisions of Articles 14 and 16 requiring UK ministers to obtain the consent of decentralised ministers in the exercise of their licensing powers are also examples of a collaborative approach. As far as market access is concerned, trade in fishery products is not a zero-sum game. The EU exports as much fish to the UK as it does from the UK: more than £1 billion in trade in each direction. It must certainly be in both interests to avoid trade restrictions or the imposition of customs duties.

That is a long list of gaps that I hope the minister will fill when he responds to this debate. As for filling in the details of this table, I do not intend to ask the government to reveal its negotiating position in the talks that are due to begin in March – even if they knew what it was, which I rather doubt. I will not be surprised or particularly disappointed if the minister says that he will not go into detail at this point. But it is important to enter into these negotiations, which will inevitably be difficult and difficult, with a set of realistic and achievable goals, not just a collection of slogans and mantras – something that has been revealed over the past three and a half years. We should also be prepared to find compromises along the way, because an all-or-nothing approach would too likely cause damage that goes far beyond the fisheries sector itself. Any fisheries agreement is likely to fall unevenly across Member States, depending on the type of stocks that allow the UK to allow EU vessels to continue fishing. .

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