EU Fisheries Ministers meet in informal video conference to discuss the provisional agreement on fishing opportunities with the UK
On Wednesday, June 09 2021, EU fisheries ministers met via video-conference to discuss theprovisional agreement on fishing opportunities that had recently been concluded between the EU and the United Kingdom.
This agreement covered fishing opportunities for 2021 and, for deep-sea stocks, for 2021 and 2022. Following an opening statement from chair Ricardo Serrão Santos, Portuguese Minister of the Sea, the European Commission briefed the ministers on the outcome of the consultations.
A discussion then ensued, during which ministers thanked the Commission for their hard work and expressed their support for the provisional agreement, which they felt ensured continued respect for the social, environmental and economic pillars of the Common Fisheries Policy, provided the certainty that the fishing industry needed, and paved the way for future consultations with the UK on fishing rights.
“This agreement represents a milestone in EU-UK relations and sets a strong precedent for future negotiations with the UK on fishing opportunities. It provides clarity and stability for fishermen and women, while also ensuring that marine resources will continue to be used sustainably” said Ricardo Serrão Santos, Portuguese Minister of Maritime Affairs
In March 2021, following a Commission proposal, the Council adopted a decision on the position to be taken in bilateral consultations with the UK on fishing opportunities for 2021 and, for deep-sea stocks, for 2021 and 2022. This position was based on the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy, which includes socio-economic aspects, decision-making based on the best available scientific advice, a level playing field and respect for international obligations.
On 02 June 2021, following several rounds of consultations, the EU and the UK reached a provisional comprehensive agreement on fishing opportunities for 2021 and, for deep-sea stocks, for 2021 and 2022. The European Commission will provide an update to ministers on the outcome of the consultations; ministers will then exchange views on the EU’s position as reflected in the draft agreement. More information For many years, fishing opportunities for the approximately 100 shared stocks were negotiated and determined on an annual basis in the Agriculture and Fisheries Council (every December). Following the UK’s departure from the EU, these shared stocks are, as of January 2021, no longer considered as exclusive EU fish resources but shared resources under international law. For this reason, ministers agreed at last December’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council on preliminary and limited fishing opportunities for the first three months of 2021 (given the absence of an EU-UK deal at that time). The conclusion of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement at the end of 2020 means that the two parties can now set the volume of total allowable catches (TACs) and the quotas for the shared stocks for 2021 (and for 2022 for deep-sea stocks).
The Trade and Cooperation Agreement sets out the proportions allocated to each party for each stock for the years to come (as percentages). Under the terms of the agreement, the EU and the UK will hold annual consultations to agree the quantities of shared stocks to be caught the following year. The European Commission will lead these consultations and the member states will be fully informed and involved throughout the process and at different levels.
During the informal video conference of fisheries ministers in January 2021, delegations set out their priorities for the bilateral consultations and supported the presidency’s initial guidance to the Commission for the start of the consultations. In February, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Council decision concerning the position to be taken (on behalf of the EU) in the bilateral consultations. This position was based on the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy, including socio-economic aspects, basing decisions on the best available scientific advice, ensuring a level playing field, and ensuring respect for international obligations. At an informal video conference of fisheries ministers in February 2021, the Commission presented its proposal to the Council. The Council decision was then approved by written procedure in early March 2021.
The Portuguese presidency will now move forward with the approval of the EU’s position.