Saturday, 7 September 2019

Does a Brexit without a deal really leave half the French fishermen at the dock?

In the wake of the loss of the majority for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the House of Commons, France believes that a Brexit without agreement would represent, today, the most likely scenario.

French trawler running from the Brexit storm.

While the issue of Brexit continues to stir the British Parliament, France continues to consider the consequences of leaving the European Union of the United Kingdom without agreement with Brussels. To listen to Fran├žois-Xavier Bellamy, MEP LR, Wednesday, September 4 on RTL, 50% of French fishermen would stay at docks in case of Brexit hard.

No, only 30% of French fishermen who would be affected.

Thanks to the European rules in force since the 70's, France is free to go fishing in British waters. Moreover, it does not deprive itself, even if a quota system exists. In total, France is looking for around 170,000 tonnes of fish a year in British waters. This represents 30% of its total fishing, according to the national committee of marine fisheries and marine farms. This represents 30% on average, but this figure rises to 50% for Brittany, the leading fishing region in France. It even reaches 75% for the Hauts-de-France, including the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, only about twenty kilometers from British waters.

What would a Brexit represent for French fishermen? Hard to know precisely. What is certain is that Teresa May tried in January, during the agreement negotiated with Brussels, to propose solutions for the post-Brexit. A text which would maintain, at least for a while, the current conditions of access to the territorial waters of the Member States and fishing limits. Time to negotiate a new agreement next year.

That was, therefore, in case of exit from the negotiated EU. Without an agreement with the Member States, in the event of a "no deal", and therefore a hard Brexit, the United Kingdom can unilaterally block access to its waters for all European fishermen. Any fishing on its territory will be subject to prior authorisation. But it is only in the case of a total ban on fishing that 30% (and not 50%) of French fishermen would remain at the dockside.

No, European guidelines to help fishermen have already been adopted.

It should also be noted that the European Commission has already considered this "hard Brexit" scenario. And even adopted two emergency measures at the beginning of the year. The first is to allow fishermen from the Member States to receive compensation under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for the temporary cessation of fishing activities.

The second amends the regulation on the sustainable management of external fleets. In short, it aims to grant EU waters access to United Kingdom vessels until the end of 2019, provided that EU vessels also benefit from reciprocal access to waters of the United Kingdom.

But the Commission itself acknowledges that these emergency measures will not be able to fully mitigate the consequences of a "no deal", nor will they fully replicate the benefits of EU membership, nor the conditions of a possible transition period.

Full story from France TV