Tuesday

11th May 2021

Agenda

Fishing quota and no-deal Brexit preparation This WEEK

  • How much fishing will be allowed in 2019? EU ministers are due to decide in what traditionally is an all-night haggling fest. (Photo: Fredrik Ohlander)

Some EU institutions are slowly winding down towards the Christmas break, while others have a flurry of activity at the end of the year.

The week after the last EU summit of the year will still see plenty of action in the building of the Council of the EU, the institution where member states meet.

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The week is kicked off with a meeting of ministers in charge of agriculture and fisheries. On Monday, they will discuss the European Commission's proposal for a new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for the 2021-2027 period.

Diplomats and ministers have discussed the CAP proposal several times the past six months, and a key point of debate is the commission's plan to give back power to the member states on how they implement the CAP.

According to a progress report prepared by Austria, which holds the rotating EU presidency until the end of the year, the talks "have made it clear that delegations can back the proposed policy shift in principle, but that further improvements are needed to make the system more practicable".

Monday and Tuesday will also see negotiations between fisheries ministers about Atlantic and North Sea catch quota for 2019.

This annual haggling exercise normally lasts the entire night, so an outcome can be expected only on Wednesday morning.

Last year, the fish quota debate lasted until 7:41AM.

The EU has committed to keep fish quota limited to what scientists believe is just enough not to deplete certain stocks, but economic interests always impede on that goal.

"Like every year these negotiations are about finding a balance between the sustainability of our fish stocks and the needs of our fishermen," said Estonian minister for fisheries Siim Kiisler last year.

The environmental organisation WWF said in a report published last week that the situation was improving, but not everywhere.

"Europe's history of fishing beyond sustainable levels has made it more challenging to reach the objective of healthy fish and shellfish populations," the report said.

"In the North-East Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea, some fish and shellfish stocks have shown clear signs of recovery since the early 2000s, but further efforts are needed to secure long-term healthy fish populations in these regions," it added.

This year, Brexit will play an additional role, as the UK's fishing quota for 2019 will depend on whether the UK parliament accepts the EU-UK Brexit deal.

Brexit will dominate Wednesday (19 December), when the EU commission will unveil a set of preparedness measures in case the UK crashes out of the bloc next March without a deal.

The EU wanted to step up its preparation for the no-deal scenario after this week's EU summit, where British prime minister Theresa May failed to spell out to the other EU leaders how she plans to get the votes necessary in the London parliament to pass the Brexit deal.

Climate-neutral Europe

On Wednesday, energy ministers will travel to Brussels.

No big decisions are expected, but it will be the first time energy ministers discuss the commission's recently published strategy paper on achieving a climate-neutral Europe by 2050.

The next day, environment ministers will also debate the commission's climate paper.

They will also try to reach a common position about new CO2-emission limits for trucks, buses and lorries.

The bill, proposed by the EU commission, would require emissions to be 15 percent lower in 2025, compared to 2019.

Last month, the European Parliament decided in a vote that it wanted a 20 percent reduction target - the final goal will be a compromise of the three EU institutions.

There will be no formal meetings in the European Parliament. A few handful of MEPs will be on official business as part of delegations, one of them to Slovakia to inquire about the aftermath of the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak.

There will also be an EU-Kosovo and an EU-Ukraine meeting on Monday, another such meeting with Serbia on Tuesday, and an EU-Egypt conference on Thursday.

EU failed to end overfishing by 2020: lost opportunity?

Environmentalists denounce that the EU failed to comply with the legal obligation to end overfishing by 2020, putting at risk the sustainability of fish stocks by putting the interests of the fishing industry ahead of the health of its waters.

Fish complicates last push for post-Brexit deal

"If the UK wants a deal here, there's a deal to be done. If the UK wants to use fish as an excuse not to have a deal, then that could happen too," Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney warned.

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EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel will give their versions of events that took place at their visit to Ankara earlier this month, in a plenary debate at the European Parliament.

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