We’re watching you, Britain! MEPs issue fierce fishing warning – group letter sent to EU

Brexit: Fisherman discusses plan to 'look further afield'

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The UK and EU signed a post-Brexit trade deal at the end of last year following months of tense and often bitter negotiations as both sides continued to stand strong on a number of red lines. It was only last week – four months after Britain cut all ties with the bloc – that MEPs in the European Parliament finally ratified the EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement. Fisheries was a hotly-disputed topic during the trade negotiations but several MEPs have now written a letter to European Commission vice president Maros Sefkovic in a brutal attack against the UK.

French fishermen have struggled to get hold of post-Brexit licences from the UK to allow fishing vessels to operate in the English Channel.

The letter has been signed by 10 French MEP – Stephanie Yon-Courtin; Pierre Karleskind; Marie-Pierre Vedrenne; Catherine Chabaud; Nathalie Loiseau; Dominique Riquet; Stephane Travert; Sonia Krimi; Herve Berville and Bertrand Sorry.

They have claimed “good faith of the British government on fishing matters is far from a guarantee and it is often completely absent”.

The letter to Mr Sefcovic says: “It has been less than a week since the European Parliament ratified the EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement.

“The Fisheries Agreement is an integral part of it and therefore linked to its other provisions.

Much of the fisheries agreement relies on the British government’s good faith in enforcing the rules of the agreement.

“However, since the provisional application of the agreement we have found that the good faith of the British government on fishing matters is far from a guarantee and it is often completely absent.

“Questionable or even illegal restrictive interpretations for obtaining fishing authorisations, unilateral technical measures, a lack of visibility on the fishing possibilities for the year 2021 and great difficulties of implementation within 6-12 miles of the British waters as in the waters of Guernsey and Jersey are the daily life of European fishermen and the fisheries management authorities of the Member States.

“We listen to the expectations and exasperation of fishermen from Hauts-de-France, Normandy and Brittany, especially those who work in the waters of the Channel Islands.

“The European Parliament has also deeply regretted, in its resolution which accompanied the agreement, “that the fishing rights of the European Union are called into question by diversionary manoeuvres which make use of the impossibility to adopt in due time an agreement on TACs and quotas, unacceptable technical measures as well as questionable restrictive interpretations concerning the conditions for obtaining licenses”.

The letter to Mr Sefcovic from the group of French MEPs to take a more aggressive stance against the UK Government to ensure the “provisions of the fisheries part of the agreement”.

They urge Brussels to “respond strongly by balancing other industries such as financial services” in the event of “restrictive or even illegal application of the fisheries section”.

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The letter also urges the European Commission should not rubber stamp to trade deal with the UK until French fishermen are fully granted their licenses.

It concludes: “We call on the European Commission to use all the levers of action vis-à-vis the British government to enforce the provisions of the fisheries part of the agreement.

“The inseparable nature of the fisheries agreement and the trade agreement must be fully respected in its implementation.

“In the event of restrictive or even illegal application of the fisheries section, the EU must be able to respond strongly by balancing other industries such as financial services.

“As such, we will call, if necessary, on the Member States not to give the European Commission the green light to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with the United Kingdom until the licenses are fully granted and the agreement on TAC 2021 has been concluded.

“We therefore ask that all means be used to get the European fishing sector out of the uncertainty into which it is plunged.”

Pierre Karleskind, one of the 10 French MEPs to sign the letter, posted it on Twitter and demanded: Fishermen must be heard!”

He accused the UK Government of “ill will”, urging Brussels to “toughen up the tone” to ensure the full implementation of the fishing deal.

Mr Karleskind tweeted: “Fishermen must be heard!

“Faced with the ill will of the British government, it is necessary to toughen up the tone to obtain the implementation of the fishing agreement!”

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