EU Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius press statement folllowing AGRIFISH Council

EU Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius has released apress statement folllowing AGRIFISH Council

The EU Commissioner for Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius has released a press statement following the AGRIFISH Council today.

In his press statement he says:

“Recently we have become used to talking about plans A and plans B, whereby plan B is developed just in case, if things are not going as they should. It is there to be prepared, but the hope is that it can stay in the drawer.

Well, this morning, the Council has agreed on a plan B regarding fishing opportunities for stocks shared with the UK. After a long day and night of negotiations, the Council has found a workable compromise, very closely aligned with the Commission’s proposal. The agreement foresees provisional TACs until 31 July, generally at the corresponding level of seven twelfths of the EU’s share of the 2021 scientific advice.

This agreement gives us time to conclude the ongoing negotiations with the UK and ensures that our fishermen and women can continue their operations after the expiry of the current provisional TACs, next week on 31 March.

Still, my hope is that this agreement will only have a very short shelf live and that we can soon replace it with definitive TACs, once we have concluded the consultations with the UK.

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Over the last week we have progressed significantly in the EU-UK consultations and we did it in a constructive atmosphere. Thus I remain optimistic that very soon we will succeed with our plan A and be able to implement it speedily in the form of definitive TACs.

We had already some very good news last week, when we reached agreement both with Norway, and with the UK and Norway on the shared TACs in the North Sea. That was an important milestone and it bodes well for our further talks.

However, even if the consultations with the UK take longer than expected, we are now prepared with the agreement Council has found today on the provisional TACs and even a few definitive TACs for those stocks where we already have the outcome of the bilateral consultations with Norway and the trilateral consultations with Norway and the UK.

For the Commission, one criterion was absolutely essential in the discussions. It is the need to comply with the provisions of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and be in line with the scientific advice to ensure the long-term sustainability of species. The scientific ground is the cornerstone of the common fisheries policy. This means either following MSY advice where we have it or following precautionary advice.

The Commission has agreed to this compromise because the pillar that I just mentioned, science-based and in line with the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation agreement, has been respected.

Now I look forward to a swift conclusion of the EU-UK negotiations in the coming days, which we can then translate as soon as possible into definitive TACs.”

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