Sunday

13th Jun 2021

UK leaves fishing convention amid Brexit talks

  • Countries are allowed to fish within 6 to 12 nautical miles of the coastline, according to the convention. (Photo: Ben Sutherland)

The UK is pulling out of a fishing convention that allows countries to fish near its coast, in order to fulfil one of its Brexit pledges.

Britain announced on Sunday (2 July) that it would withdraw from the 50-year-old London Fisheries Convention, which allows fishermen from some European countries to fish between six and 12 nautical miles (11 and 12 km) from its coastline.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The convention also allows UK fishermen to fish close to the coast of Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.

After a two-year withdrawal period, British fishermen will no longer be allowed into the waters, and vice versa.

"This is an historic first step towards building a new domestic fishing policy as we leave the European Union, one which leads to a more competitive, profitable and sustainable industry for the whole of the UK,” environment secretary and Brexit supporter Michael Gove said.

"It means for the first time in more than 50 years, we will be able to decide who can access our waters," he added.

However, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned that leaving the London agreement does not mean the UK would be able to unilaterally decide whom to allow in and whom to keep out of its waters.

He said on Twitter that nothing would change because the EU's fishery laws are superior to the London Convention.

The London Convention was signed in 1964 before the UK joined the EU. The EU Common Fisheries Policy allows vessels from all EU countries to fish beyond the 12-mile limit.

British fishermen have been complaining that when the UK joined the European Community in 1973, their interests were sidelined.

Ireland's agriculture minister, Michael Creed, however criticised Britain's decision as "unwelcome and unhelpful.”

According to official data, 10,000 tonnes of fish – worth an estimated £17 million (€19 million) – were caught by vessels from other countries in 2015. However, the overall UK fisheries sector, with over 6,000 vessels, landed 708,000 tonnes of fish under the agreement – worth £775 million (€883 million).

No more cake

The move comes after the Guardian newspaper reported that London has realised it has to choose between political control and market access as it leaves the EU.

After the snap election last month saw UK prime minister Theresa May lose her majority, supporters of a softer Brexit, spearheaded by the Treasury and its chief, Philip Hammond, have gained more influence in the government.

The Guardian newspaper reported London has realised that it would have to abandon the policy of “having its cake and eating it”, meaning retaining full trade access and controlling immigration at the same time.

A spokesman for the Brexit ministry denied that there had been a change of policy since the election.

In the meantime, the Sunday Telegraph reported that business leaders were warned prime minister May could walk out of Brexit talks over the issue of the financial settlement as part of a negotiating tactic.

Estimates of the Brexit divorce bill vary between €60 and €100 billion.

EU mulls post-Brexit budget options

EU seeks novel ways to plug a Brexit-based budget hole of up to €11 billion, but income from fines, such as the one on Google, cannot be relied on.

May defends proposal on EU citizens' rights

“We want you to stay”, British leader Theresa May told EU nationals on Monday, but the UK's "settled status" plan lacked "ambition", the EU said.

UK agrees to EU conditions on Brexit talks

In their first meeting, the EU's Michel Barnier and Brexit minister David Davis agreed that talks on future relations will start only when "sufficient progress" has been made on divorce proceedings.

Barnier sets price for hard Brexit

The EU Brexit negotiator warned that a customs union between the UK and EU will not be possible if the UK doesn't want to respect single market rules, and "no deal" would send the UK back to "a distant past".

Barnier urges UK to come up with Brexit positions

The EU's negotiator calls on the UK government to come up with its positions on key Brexit issues ahead of the next round of talks on Monday. London is expected to do that by the end of the week.

News in Brief

  1. EU top court fast-tracks rule-of-law case to October
  2. Hungary's Fidesz wants to ban LGBTIQ content for under-18s
  3. MEPs join EU citizens on farm-animal cage ban
  4. Council of Europe urges Russia to release Navalny 'immediately'
  5. China's anti-sanctions law alarms EU businesses
  6. Airlines seek to water down EU passengers' rights
  7. EU leaders join call for further probe into Covid origins
  8. Liberal MEPs under fire over Babiš abstention

Post-Brexit talks in last push until Sunday

The probability of no deal has increased as a last-ditch effort by British prime minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen did not bridge gaps.

Opinion

What a No Deal Brexit is going to look like

Research by the London School of Economics forecasts that a no-deal Brexit could be three times as bad as the pandemic for the UK economy, writes mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the president of the Committee of the Regions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU urges Poland to step back from 'legal primacy' clash
  2. Pressure builds on EU to back WTO vaccine-patent waiver
  3. EU anti-fraud agency cracked down on fake pandemic supplies
  4. MEP office expenses kept secret on dubious evidence
  5. What the EU public think of EU pesticide regulation
  6. MEPs set to take EU Commission to court on rule-of-law
  7. EU takes legal action against Germany on bonds ruling
  8. MEPs demand new EU biodiversity law by next year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us