Tag Archives: fishery

#EUCO: EU-UK future relations at stake

Brussels 13.10.2020 Today the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has informed the EU Ministers on the state of play of talks between the block and the UK, and the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. He also confirmed the “strong EU unity” ahead of European Council on October 15-16. Barnier added that the EU will continue to work for a fair deal in the coming days and weeks.

Ahead of the Council European Council President Charles Michel has called the British government to put “all cards on the table” respecting to Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. “To get to a deal, we need significant steps by our British friends in the coming days”, he added.

“We have given a very strong signal to the British government: If the Finance Bill is introduced with that provision in it, many in the EU will see that as an indication that the British government simply doesn’t want a deal. It would be a second piece of legislation designed to deliberately break the Withdrawal Agreement text”.

With the 15 October European Council date approaching, the negotiations between the EU and the UK are becoming more intense to meet the deadline.

Michel Barnier next travelled to London to meet with UK Chief Negotiator David Frost, while informal talks continued this past week. European Council President Charles Michel and Prime Minister Johnson spoke by phone on 7 October to discuss the progress of the intensified negotiations ahead of the 15 October Summit.

Since UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s joint statement over the weekend, EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier travelled to Berlin on Monday to meet with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

The latter stressed the pandemic has made the negotiations with the UK even more difficult. Regardless of this hurdle, Maas added a no-deal Brexit would be “irresponsible”, saying the EU remains open to establishing a “close and ambitious partnership” with the UK. He warned, however, that progress is needed at this stage of the talks on state aid, the Irish border and dispute resolution.

Meanwhile, the UK Government announced its intention to push through a Finance Bill (not yet published) for approval by the end of the year could prove problematic for achieving a deal with the EU. The Bill is expected to include clauses which would allow the UK Government to make unilateral decisions about which goods were “at risk” of being traded on from Northern Ireland into the EU, and should therefore be subject to tariffs. The EU argues that this would be a further breach the Withdrawal Agreement and may therefore risk a no-deal exit scenario.

On October 7 in a separate procedure the Scottish Parliament voted to withhold consent on the UK’s Internal Market Bill. Both the Scottish and Welsh governments have stated the Bill overrides their powers of administration.

Lord Frost: UK-EU differences remain

Brussels 2.10.2020 Lord David Frost, UK Chief Negotiator Lord David Frost issued the following statement, while concluding this week’s negotiating Round with the EU.

“We have just completed the ninth Round of our negotiations with the EU about our future relationship.
“These were constructive discussions conducted in a good spirit.
“In many areas of our talks, although differences remain, the outlines of an agreement are visible. This is true of most of the core areas of a trade and economic agreement – notably trade in goods and services, transport, energy, social security, and participation in EU programmes. This has however been true for some time.
“I am also encouraged that progress has been possible on a law enforcement agreement and that there has been convergence on the structure of the overall partnership.
“In other areas familiar differences remain. On the level playing field, including subsidy policy, we continue to seek an agreement that ensures our ability to set our own laws in the UK without constraints that go beyond those appropriate to a free trade agreement. There has been some limited progress here but the EU need to move further before an understanding can be reached. On fisheries the gap between us is unfortunately very large and, without further realism and flexibility from the EU, risks being impossible to bridge. These issues are fundamental to our future status as an independent country.
“I am concerned that there is very little time now to resolve these issues ahead of the European Council on 15 October.
“For our part, we continue to be fully committed to working hard to find solutions, if they are there to be found.”

EU-UK trade agreement on rocks

The EU officials have informed the UK goverment that the Primie Minister Boris Johnson has less than two weeks to save the agreement on post-Brexit trade and security, according to senior European Union sources. (Image above: archive).

The heads of the delegations Michel Barnier and David Frost will hold emergency talks next week in an effort to save the negotiations, according to The Times newspaper.

Mr Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, told the government last week that negotiations will not move forward until Mr Frost explains what Britain’s future policy will be on industrial subsidies, often mentioned as «level the playing field».

The Britsh negotiator responded to the EU top civil servant that the UK would not draw up such a key economic policy on a “timetable dictated to” by Brussels.

However the EU position towards key elements has not changed since January. «…Without a level playing field on environment, labour, taxation, and state aid, you cannot have the highest quality access to the world’s largest Single Market» the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said while addressing London School of Economics with her speech on future of relations between the EU-UK relations.

Next to issues of trade the other questions of significance still remain unanswered, being locked as a part of this comprehensive agreement – the status of the EU citizens in the UK, the border controls, and the immigraiton.

Barnier: EU willing ambitious UK partnership

“I am happy to meet you here in Europe House in London, at the end of this sixth negotiation round” the EU top negotiator of the EU-UK post-Brexit agreement said, while concluding latest round of talks in London.

“I would like to thank the EU Delegation, and our Ambassador João Vale de Almeida for welcoming us.

“Thank you also for the very useful work you do, representing the EU in the UK, together with the 27 EU Ambassadors, whom I met yesterday.

“This negotiation takes place in the middle of a very serious health, economic and social crisis across Europe and the world.

“This crisis gives us a duty to act responsibly and to work for an agreement limiting the negative consequences of Brexit. This is also why the agreement found this week in the European Council is so important. EU leaders, including Presidents Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, showed responsibility and EU unity in agreeing on a budget for the next 7 years and on a very ambitious recovery plan. The European Parliament is debating this today.

…Let me begin with a few words on the context of this round. At the High-Level Meeting with Presidents Ursula von der Leyen, David Sassoli and Charles Michel in June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told us that he wanted to reach a political agreement quickly. The Prime Minister also stated three red lines:

– no role for the European Court of Justice in the UK; – the right to determine future UK laws without constraints and an agreement on fisheries that shows that Brexit makes a real difference compared to the existing situation.
What Boris Johnson says and writes matters to the EU. Therefore, following the High-Level Meeting, we agreed to intensify our discussions. We have tried to understand how these three red lines can be squared with our commitment to a comprehensive new partnership – as set out in the Political Declaration, signed by Prime Minister Johnson on 17 October last year. Because of course, any international agreement implies constraints on both Parties.

We have continued to engage sincerely and constructively, in line with the mandate given to us by the Member States, with the support of the European Parliament.

However, over the past few weeks, the UK has not shown the same level of engagement and readiness to find solutions respecting the EU’s fundamental principles and interests.

This week, we have had useful discussions on some issues in goods and services.

But these negotiations are complex and require us to make progress across all areas. And we are still far away.

This week, discussions took place in a positive atmosphere, and I want to thank David Frost and his team, as well as the EU team, for their professional approach.

It has allowed us to make some progress:

We had useful discussions to narrow our divergences in the areas of social security coordination and Union programmes.
We made progress towards the objective of a comprehensive and single institutional framework, which must include robust enforcement mechanisms.
And we had good discussions on police and judicial cooperation, even if divergences remain.
On two important subjects, transport and energy, we had intense and useful discussions. However, the UK continued to request single market-like benefits.In addition, there is still no progress on two essential topics of our economic partnership.

First, there must be robust guarantees for a level playing field – including on State aid and standards – to ensure open and fair competition among our businesses, also over time. This is a core interest for all 27 Member States – and in my view also for the UK.
Second, we have to agree on a balanced, sustainable and long-term solution for fisheries, with the interests of all Member States concerned in mind, and not least the many men and women whose livelihoods depend on it on both sides.
These two points should not come as a surprise.

We have been saying the same thing since the beginning of the negotiations – not only this year, but consistently over the last three years. These points are mentioned explicitly in the Political Declaration – a rather precise text. They were part and parcel of our political engagement with Prime Minister Boris Johnson eight months ago.We are simply asking to translate this political engagement into a legal text. Nothing more.

Once again, what the Prime Minister writes and says matters to us. On the two points I mentioned – the level playing field and fisheries – this week again, the UK did not show a willingness to break the deadlock.

1/ On the level playing field, the UK still refuses to commit to maintaining high standards in a meaningful way.

On State aid, despite the clear wording of the Political Declaration, we have made no progress at all.

This is all the more worrying because we have no visibility on the UK’s intention on its future domestic subsidy control regime. We respect the UK political debate but the time for answers is quickly running out.

On important areas such as climate, environment, labour or social law, the UK refuses effective means to avoid undercutting by lowering standards.

The UK wants to regain its regulatory autonomy. We respect that.

But can the UK use this new regulatory autonomy to distort competition with us? We have to answer this question as we commit to a new economic partnership. We want to trade with the UK free from tariffs, free from quotas, but also free from unfair competition. And I am sure UK businesses want that too. The UK tells us it needs certainty for its businesses. But that cannot be at the price of long term uncertainty and disadvantage for our businesses in the EU.

We respect the UK government’s political choice and we are ready to work on solutions. But the EU cannot and will not accept to foot the bill for the UK’s political choices. And let me be very clear: A less ambitious agreement on goods and services will not lead the EU to drop its demands for a robust level playing field.

2/ On fisheries, the UK is effectively asking for a near total exclusion of EU fishing vessels from UK waters.

That is simply unacceptable.

The UK will be an independent coastal state, and the EU fully respects that. We also recognise that, under the future agreement, there may be change to the benefit of UK fishermen. But common stocks need to be managed jointly – according to international law and the principle of responsible and sustainable management of resources.

And any agreement cannot lead to the partial destruction of the EU fishing industry.I repeat: we have to agree on a balanced, sustainable and long-term solution for fisheries protecting the many men and women whose livelihoods depend on it.

The EU has always insisted that an economic partnership with the UK must include robust level playing field rules and an equitable agreement on fisheries.

This means that, by its current refusal to commit to conditions of open and fair competition and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes a trade agreement at this point unlikely.

…Until the very last day of this negotiation and despite the current difficulties, the EU will remain engaged, constructive and respectful.

In any case, the UK has chosen to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union on 1 January 2021 – in little more than five months.

This will bring inevitable changes. On our side, we are getting ready.

We have published a Communication to help EU citizens, businesses and public administrations prepare for the end of the transition period.
EU leaders have agreed this week on a 5 billion euro special instrument – the “Brexit Adjustment Reserve” – to counter unforeseen and adverse consequences in Member States and sectors that are worst affected by Brexit.
In parallel, we have so far published over 70 sector specific notices: they explain in detail what actions must be taken in each sector to be ready for the end of the transition period. These notices are mandatory reading for stakeholders. They are available on our UK task force webpage.
But if we do not reach an agreement on our future partnership, there will be far more friction.

For instance, on trade in goods, in addition to new customs formalities, there will be tariffs and quotas.

This is the truth of Brexit. And I will continue to tell the truth.

If we want to avoid this additional friction, we must come to an agreement in October at the latest, so that our new treaty can enter into force on 1 January next year.

This means that we only have a few weeks left, and that we should not waste them.

Let me also remind you that we only have little time left to properly implement the Withdrawal Agreement.

Together with Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, we continue to follow closely the implementation by the UK of its commitments under the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.

In this context, EU leaders have also agreed on Monday to allocate 120 million euro to the PEACE PLUS programme in support of peace and reconciliation and of the continuation of North-South cross border cooperation.

The recent Specialised Committee on the Protocol was a useful occasion to take stock of progress. I would like to thank Michael Gove and his team for their engagement.

But we remain concerned that the necessary measures will not be in place on 1 January.

Let me remind you that there is no grace period for the proper implementation of this Protocol.

We also remain vigilant, together with the 27 EU governments and the European Parliament, to guarantee the rights of British nationals covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. In the same way, we expect the rights of EU citizens here in the UK to be safeguarded.

…Today in London, I want to reaffirm the EU’s willingness to reach an ambitious partnership agreement in all areas including, even later on, in external security and defense. This is also the wish of Presidents Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the European Parliament and the 27 Heads of State or government.

I continue to believe that Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the UK government want to find an agreement with the EU.

Because it is in our common interest to cooperate and to address the many and serious challenges of today: climate change and biodiversity, health and security, research and innovation, democracy and fundamental rights, the fight against poverty and financial stability.

If I may borrow a famous line from Saint-Exupéry, negotiation is not just to look or to speak at one another. It is to look together in the same direction.

I will be back in London with my team next week as planned.
A new round is foreseen mid-August.
Work continues. Our resolve remains unchanged”.

David Frost the Sherpa and EU adviser to Prime Minister made a separate statement.

Barnier laments lack of progress

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has blamed the UK of “backtracking” on commitments on fisheries and other issues in post-Brexit trade talks towards the comprehensive agreement.
The EU civil servant regretted no “significant progress” had been made this week, and insisted the UK should “respect” rules agreed with the EU. He aslo suggested political will is needed to give a new momentum to current negociations, describled as largely in stalemate.

At present the UK and EU are are in dispute over competition rules, governance and fishing rights and police cooperation, and other issues.

“My responsibility is to speak to truth and, to tell the truth, this week there have been no significant areas of progress” Barner lamented.
“In all areas, the UK continues to backtrack under commitments undertaken in the political declaration, including on fisheries. We cannot and will not accept this backtracking on the political declaration” he added.

Barnier called for respect of the guidleins and objectives, enshrined for the political declaration, agreed by the UK and EU last year, which indicated objectives for a future relationship.

The UK sherpa David Frost said any Brexit deal would have to accomodate the UK’s well established position on a “level playing field”.

“We have just completed our fourth full negotiating round with the EU, again by video conference. It was a little shorter than usual and more restricted in scope. We continue to discuss the full range of issues, including the most difficult ones” he explained.

Barnier not «optimistic» about Brexit deal

European Union’s top Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on May 15 that the third round of talks with the UK on a new partnership was “disappointing”.

“We’re not going to bargain away our values for the benefit of the British economy,” visibly discontent Barnier said a news conference in the European Commission press centre.

He added the bloc would not seal a new trade deal with London without level playing field guarantees of fair competition or without a comprehensive agreement on fisheries. In the context of COVID-19 virus all the negociations were conducted by telecommunications.

Barnier suggested the UK’s own demands were “not realistic” and warned of a looming stalemate.

The EU chief negociator underlined aim was a “modern, forward-looking” agreement with the UK which would avoid any tariffs or quotas on trade.
He also pointed out that the current talks would shape the relationship between the UK and EU for “decades to come” and the EU would not opt for a deal “at any price”.

When answering questions about the chances of Brexit economic agreement, he said he was “not optimistic, but still determined”, adding that the EU was “stepping up preparations” for a no-deal outcome.