EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier has reportedly made an offer to the UK on a fisheries deal
The European Parliament agreed to eliminate EU tariffs on lobsters in return for lower US tariffs on a range of EU exports.
In exchange for the elimination of duties on live or frozen lobster imported from the US, the EU will get duty relief of a comparable economic value on its own products, such as prepared meals, certain crystal glassware and cigarette lighters. This is the first EU-US negotiated tariff-reduction in over 20 years, and is applicable for all WTO trading partners.
Parliament supported the agreement with 638 votes for, 45 against and 11 abstentions “as a basis for renewed constructive transatlantic engagement”.
The resolution notes that the EU and the US have been engaged in a dispute over US tariffs levied in June 2018 on European steel and aluminium and agricultural products.
Bernd Lange (S&D, DE), rapporteur
“Over the last few years, trade relations between the EU and the US have been marked by tension. This deal on lobsters clearly shows that the EU prefers cooperation to confrontation. The US must stop slapping unilateral tariffs on our companies. We have to settle the Airbus-Boeing case and explore how we can act together, for example, on WTO reform. We must keep in mind that we have more in common than what divides us,” said the rapporteur who also chairs the Trade Committee.
Council is expected to approve the regulation in December. Following the plenary vote and the Council approval, the regulation will enter into force on the day following its publication in the Official Journal, with retroactive effect from 1 August 2020.
Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus voted against the proposal on the elimination of customs duties on certain products, citing the negative implications the deal would have on Irish lobster fishers.
Speaking from Sligo MacManus said:
“The vote that took place in the European Parliament concerned a US-EU deal that would see the elimination of tariffs for certain products, including an elimination of tariffs on US lobster being imported into the EU.”
The trade deal negotiations which were overseen by Fine Gael’s Phil Hogan have been widely criticised by people from Irish fishing and coastal communities.
“Unfortunately, I think the former commissioner has sold out the people from these communities. It would seem that the profit margins of French Multinationals is more important than the basic survival of a family from Galway or Donegal.” MacManus continued, “When this deal was announced, I raised my concerns that the elimination of tariffs will lead to low-priced American lobster flooding the EU market, which could have a detrimental effect on our fishing, coastal and island communities.”
The Midlands Northwest MEP said times were hard enough on fishing communities without adding to their woes. “This is already a hugely damaging time for Ireland’s fishing communities. Covid-19 and an impending Brexit has left the sector struggling. Tariff-free imports of US lobster will now add to that.
MacManus concluded by calling for proper supports, “It is now incumbent on the Irish government and European Commission to ensure that our coastal and fishing communities are compensated for any lost revenue this deal incurs.”