Tuesday November 10, 2020 - 16:29:32 GMT
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Brexit Negotiations Reach Crucial Stage
Time is running out for the UK and EU to agree on a trade deal, as the end of year Brexit deadline edges ever closer. Though the clock is against him, Boris Johnson has been urged not to sell the fishing industry down the river in talks with the EU, amidst fears that big compromises will have to be made in order for any meaningful deal to broker. In recent weeks, the European Union has demanded “substantive” movement from Britain regarding fisheries – which continues to be the main sticking point in the ongoing negotiations.
Despite only accounting for 0.12% of the UK’s GDP, disputes over fishing waters and maritime jurisdictions have dominated Brexit talks – much to the dismay of officials who are deadlocked in time-sensitive trade negotiations. The UK fishing industry currently employs around 24,000 people but has been in steep decline for decades. The vast majority of fish consumed in the country is imported, leaving some to question whether fishing was the most pressing issue to discuss - given the multitude of disagreements that already exist.
However, several vocal Brexiteers have defended the government's staunch line on fishing, claiming that the UK could benefit massively from reclaiming its waters. In theory, a single fishing industry would reduce the need for imports, but the practical implementation of this would be far more complicated than some are willing to admit.
While you would remove the issue of rival nations poaching fish in your waters, it would likely intensify divisions within the British fishing industry itself. Industrial vessels would jostle with family-owned boats, while deep-sea versus inshore fishing would become another inevitable fault line.
Downing Street did not deny reports that a compromise offer was made by London, one that would essentially allow EU catches in British waters to be “phrased down” between 2021 and 2024 – to allow for continental partners to adapt. Fishermen from several EU nations have been visiting UK waters for centuries, most notably from France and Holland.
For the UK to suddenly expel boats from those lands - without ample warning - could have a catastrophic effect on the livelihoods of said fishermen. It would also needlessly damage Franco-Anglo relations, possibly resulting in Britain drifting ever further from the rest of Europe post-Brexit.
While no breakthrough has yet been made with the EU, a deal has been struck with Norway – another European state that Britain has historically duelled with concerning fishing rights. Both countries have agreed to annual negotiations on share of catch. On paper at least, a deal of this nature could help break the current deadlock with the EU. Check out casinos with skrill here.
The head of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations told reporters that the industry would be ready to approve a brief transition, but warned that anything which smacked of “Common Fisheries Policy-lite” would be unacceptable. “What we wouldn’t agree to is surrendering fishing rights in order to have a trade deal," said Barry Deas.
“There is no expectation within the UK fishing industry that the UK will back down on fisheries. If anything, the commitments that have been made to the industry are stronger now than when the negotiations started. We’ve been given clear and unequivocal commitments”, Mr Deas continued.
Time is Running Out
The EU set an arbitrary ‘end of October’ deadline for any Brexit deal to be reached - and on its way towards being ratified. With October having been and gone, diplomats in Brussels are quietly gearing up to negotiate well into November, so as not to be accused of rushing anything through.
Keen to keep a dialogue open with Britain at all costs, Poland’s European Affairs Minister, Konrad Szymanski, offered journalists a clear message when pressed on the topic; “We will negotiate until the last minute”. Boris Johnson will be hoping that the EU can remain similarly generous with their time.
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