Britain ‘offers the EU a last minute concession on fishing’ to try to break post-Brexit trade talks deadlock by ‘giving European trawlers a three year “transition period” to get used to new rules’
- UK said to have offered concession on crunch issue of fishing to break deadlock
- Would see EU boats given three year ‘transition period’ to get used to new rules
- EU boats would see the amount they can catch in UK waters ‘phased down’
Britain has offered the EU a last minute concession on the crunch issue of post-Brexit fishing rights in an attempt to break the negotiating deadlock in trade talks, it was claimed today.
The UK is said to have offered Brussels a three year ‘transition period’ which would give EU trawlers time to adapt to new fishing arrangements in British waters.
The plans would reportedly see the permitted catches of EU boats ‘phased down’ between 2021 and 2024 to avoid an immediate cliff edge.
The proposals are included in a new negotiating paper which the UK has presented to the bloc ahead of the forthcoming round of trade negotiations, according to The Guardian.
The move, not denied by Downing Street, will be seen as a last ditch attempt to resolve one of the key areas of disagreement between the two sides which have held up progress on other matters.
The UK is said to have offered the EU a last minute concession on post-Brexit fishing rights. A fishing vessel is pictured working in the English Channel on August 10
This map shows the extent of the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone – the waters Britain will take back control of after Brexit. At the moment the EEZ of every EU member state is merged into one large zone which can be accessed by fishermen from all over Europe.
Downing Street is adamant that British fishing boats will be given priority in UK waters next year after the end of the Brexit transition period.
But the bloc wants to maintain something closer to the current arrangements which grant EU member states reciprocal access to each other’s waters.
The concession apparently offered by the Government represents a potential compromise on the issue.
One EU diplomat was optimistic that the plans could be enough to resolve the issue, telling The Guardian: ‘We have a long way to go but if the other problematic issues can be sorted, it doesn’t look like fisheries will stand in the way of an agreement.’
Each country has an Exclusive Economic Zone which can extend up to 200 nautical miles from the coast.
That country has special fishing rights over that area.
However, in the EU each country’s Exclusive Economic Zone is effectively merged into one joint EU zone.
All fishing activity within that zone is then regulated by the bloc’s controversial Common Fisheries Policy which dictates how many of each type of fish can be caught.
The joint EU zone is open to fishermen from every member state.
But after the Brexit transition period the UK will regain sole control of its Exclusive Economic Zone.
However, the plans prompted a warning from the UK fishing industry as ministers were warned not to ‘back down’.
Barrie Deas, the head of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said: ‘What we wouldn’t agree to is surrendering fishing rights in order to have a trade deal.
‘There is no expectation within the UK fishing industry that the UK will back down on fisheries.’
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman did not reject the reports but would not be drawn any further.
He said: ‘What we have said is that we will not accept any proposals which compromise UK sovereignty over our own fishing waters or, for example, our ability to set our own subsidy
‘You have heard me say on any number of occasions that the sort of agreement we are looking for is the sort of agreement which the EU has with Norway.’
He added: ‘It is not for me to comment on the negotiations beyond setting out the broad principles. Our position in relation to fishing and access to our fishing waters has been very clear from the outset.’
Both sides remain hopeful of striking a post-Brexit trade deal but time is now running out and there remain a number of unresolved issues.
Number 10 has said it does not want talks to drag on into the autumn while EU officials view the end of October as a hard deadline.
The prospect of a breakthrough in the talks on fishing came as the UK struck a bilateral fisheries agreement with Norway which will come into effect from January 1.
It is the UK’s first fisheries agreement struck since leaving the EU and means Britain and Norway will hold annual negotiations on access to waters and quotas.
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