Will EU fishermen have to pay back the Brexit compensation as Danish fishermen fear?
The Danish Fish Producers Organisation (DFPO) is unhappy that fishermen may risk having to pay Brexit compensation back to the EU.
The Brexit agreement, which was concluded on 24 December 2020, stands to give Denmark DKK 1.7 billion (€228.6 million) from the EU Commission’s compensation pool to mitigate the effect that the British withdrawal from the EU has on Danish businesses with interests in the UK.
Of this, Danish fisheries is to receive DKK 1.1 billion (€148 million) which of course brought joy to the Danish Fisheries Association back in January.
Unfortunately, it all does not look so bright anymore, now that the Danish Fisheries Association has taken a closer look at the process around the compensation.
“The conditions set by the European Commission are quite restrictive. It’s hard to get to spend the money the way we want. There is not much to a bag of money if it cannot be used,” says Danish Fisheries Association’s director, Kenn Skau Fischer.
The problem is the reporting
Normally, the EU Commission must be notified before a member state distributes project money from the EU. With the Brexit aid package, member states must first report how the money is distributed in the autumn of 2023.
This can have the consequence that the money must be repaid if the European Commission considers that the aid has been paid unjustifiably.
“That, we think, is something worse something. We cannot have people paid some money that they expect to be able to use, and then they have to pay them back in 2023. It is not possible,” says Alfred Fisker Hansen, who is chairman of Thyborøn Havns Fiskeriforening, explained on TV Midwest.
Hard start to 2021
Due to the late arrival of the Brexit agreement, negotiations on access to Norwegian waters for EU fishermen have not yet been completed. And it can be felt in Danish fishing. It has thus been a difficult start to the year.
“The troubles have no end for our fishermen. On the basis of the Brexit agreement, we have a lack of access to Norwegian waters, and now, God help me, people are also beginning to question the compensation we were offered. It will be difficult to keep up the courage for our members,” Alfred Fisker Hansen told TV MidtVest.
It is still not known when the EU, the UK and Norway have an agreement in place on fishing in Norwegian waters, and Alfred Fisker Hansen no longer dares to guess.
“Now I have been predicting since 01 January, and I have been wrong every time, so now I dare not predict anymore.”