The Brexit deal thrashed out at the last moment and announced on Christmas Eve by President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is a divorce that hurts, said Johan K. Nooitgedagt of Dutch industry federation Nederlandse Vissersbond.
A transition period of five and a half years allows continued access to UK waters, while a portion of European quotas will be handed to the UK. Further negotiations will take place during this transition period.
He commented that for the UK, taking back control of fisheries was seen as a vital issue, making fisheries one of the thorniest issues to be tackled during the negotiations over the UK’s departure from the EU.
‘Divorce is painful,’ Johan Nooitgedagt said.
‘This gives fishermen some relief in that they will be allowed to fish in British waters for at least five and a half years, but this deal is anything but certainty. After those five and a half years, there will be renegotiations and our fishermen may not only lose their fishing grounds, but also more quota. It would be better for the negotiating position if the future of EU fishing in British waters remains linked to the free trade market,’ he said.
‘The 25% quota reduction hurts and cannot be explained. The quota used to be allocated on the basis of historical catches and transferred over time through business mechanisms. So it would therefore be fair for the British to settle for the part of the TAC that they already have.’
He commented that as the current transition period ends on December 31, the deal needs to be finalised quickly, although it will inevitably take time to examine in detail the 2000-page agreement.