Friday, 12 June 2020

Fisheries and Brexit report.

Click on the video to access the report.

Liberation from the EU’s common fisheries policy (CFP) was one of the most touted and prized benefits of Brexit. Fishing communities were among the most vocal supporters of Leave in the referendum. Yet sea fishing – even after the addition of fish processing – accounts for a negligible proportion of UK GDP and is heavily dependent on easy access to European markets, whereas UK consumers prefer fish that is imported from Europe. That economic insignificance combined with mutual dependence suggests that a deal on fishing should be easy for both sides to agree. 

However, the EU has made a trade deal with the UK conditional on continued access to UK waters after Brexit, demanding an agreement on fishing rights that replicates the status quo. It has been mooted that the EU will delay a deal giving the UK’s financial services sector access to its market if there is no agreement on fishing rights. The UK, meanwhile, is asserting its post-Brexit right to become a sovereign fishing power – an independent coastal state – and is offering the EU annual negotiations over access. 

This stand-off has the potential to derail the entire talks. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the industry has suffered badly in its key markets: the closure of restaurants in the UK and the shutdown of valuable seafood exports to continental Europe. Specific compensation schemes to support fishers through the crisis have been introduced across the UK, but it is still not clear what will be left of the industry once business returns to something more like normal. In this short report, we look at the economic and political significance of the fishing industry for the UK and the EU, how fishing features in the Brexit negotiations and the longer-term implications of Brexit for the future of the fishing industry.

Report courtesy of UK in a Changing Europe - An award-winning academic thinktank working on #Brexit. We are the authoritative source for independent research on UK-EU relations.