Representing 29 POs across ten EU member states, EAPO is warning that having already incurred heavy losses in terms of slashed quotas, fishing operators now risk losing compensation worth millions due to EU red tape and administrative delays.
Before the end of this year Member States must have allocated all funds in their Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) national envelopes to fishing and related industries that have been in financial turmoil as a consequence of Brexit.
But according to EAPO, bureaucracy and EU red tape have impeded approval of national BAR plans and payouts, risking a situation where funds aimed at the EU fishing community will end up back in Brussels.
‘The Brexit Adjustment Reserve was invented to mitigate the adverse effects of Brexit. Limiting its full use cannot be acceptable for a sector that bore the costs of the Brexit deal. Fishing quotas allocated from EU fishers to UK fishers is costing the industry 180 million Euros every year,’ said EAPO president Esben Sverdrup-Jensen, stressing the urgency of the situation facing the industry.
He commented that EAPO is deeply disappointed by the Commission’s refusal to consider an extension of the reference period for the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) and its consequent effect on the full utilization of these funds.
‘This decision further exacerbates the already significant Brexit toll borne by the fishing sector. More than 400 million Euros from the BAR were originally earmarked for the fishing sector,’ he said and added that Brexit continues to cast a long shadow over the EU fishing sector, with substantial impacts resulting from the loss of fishing quotas and from increasing policy divergence between the EU and the UK.
In a letter sent in September 2023 to Commissioner Sinkevičius, EAPO members highlighted the grave underutilisation of BAR funds and requested an extension of the reference period beyond 31st December 2023. The Commission’s response, received on 19th October 2023, dismissed the idea of extending the BAR reference period. Instead, unallocated funds will be transferred back to the general EU budget and spent outside the fishing sector, if at all. These funds will no longer alleviate the negative consequences of Brexit for the fishing sector.
‘Fishers are left out of the support they urgently require to sustain their livelihoods and their communities. Fishers are not asking for an increase in support; they only request more time to secure full uptake of the funds,’ Esben Sverdrup-Jensen said.
‘Moreover, the full extent of Brexit’s impact has not yet been reached, with the adjustment period scheduled to conclude on 30th June 2026.’