Theresa May has said the UK is leaving the Common Fisheries Policy but the pressure group Fishing for Leave claims the deal agreed with the EU ‘runs a coach and horses across ministerial and Scottish Conservatives’ red line promises.
Ahead of today’s summit, a leak of the final text shows the EU demands that the Future Relationship between the EU and the UK should ‘build on, inter alia, existing reciprocal access and quota shares’. This means fishermen must re-obey detrimental CFP rules after Brexit. It also gives the EU a weapon to lever Britain into the EUs future relationship demands.
Spokesman Aaron Brown of FFL raged: “The transition will be fatal to so many, but to compound the misery markets and access ARE linked in the agreement. This despite ministerial and White Paper commitments and with the PM lying in the commons saying they are not.”
The accusation came following Mrs May assurance to the House that fisheries resources and market access were not linked in the Withdrawal Agreement to leave the European Union. This blatant lie incensed the group which pointed out that Protocol Article 6 of the Withdrawal Agreement says quite clearly that there is a definite link between fisheries and access to the fishing grounds for EU trawlers.
On page 311 of the Withdrawal Agreement Article 6 of the protocol, which covers movement of goods in the single customs territory says: … fishery and aquaculture products….shall not be covered…, unless an agreement on access to waters and fishing opportunities is applicable between the Union and the United Kingdom.
This means that the two matters are interdependent and that unless the UK coughs up access for EU boats to continue fishing in British waters, the EU will deny access for fisheries and aquaculture products.
The spokesman continued: “What has been agreed in both the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Relationship directly tramples all over the pledge 13 Scots Tory MPs made – that markets and access wouldn’t be linked; the CFP wouldn’t continue past 2020; that the UK would be completely free thereafter and not bound to any form of quota and access share agreement.”
Another point was highlighted by the group. In the Future Relationship – Fishing opportunities section, point 75 clearly violates their pledge – “the Parties should establish a new fisheries agreement on, inter alia, access to waters and quota shares.”
FFL lambasted MPs backing the PM’s deal, saying the Future Relationship leads to a slow ensnarement of the UK in associate membership of the Common Fisheries Policy. The group said that even if the UK ever managed to gain EU permission to leave the transition and backstop arrangements then the Future Relationship, they fear, would lead to slow envelopment of the UK in associate membership of the CFP forever.
“The Future Relationship demands that for market access the applicable agreement on fisheries that must be reached (less markets be closed) is under ‘non-discrimination’ and on a ‘level playing field’ which means alignment with EU rules,” said the spokesman. “‘Non-discrimination’ has always meant equal access to a common resource – the CFPs founding tenant. Article 18 of TFEU defines non-discrimination as ensuring there is never ‘any discrimination on grounds of nationality’.
“These terminology, and the EU demand that the future applicable agreement Britain must agree to in order to access markets “should build on, inter alia, existing reciprocal access and quota shares”, means Britain is being set up to be enveloped in CFP associated membership using markets to lever access.
“It is clear we are being manipulated towards a course that leads in one direction – towards membership of ‘a’ CFP rather than ‘the’ CFP.”
Fishing for Leave also highlighted that a fisheries agreement would be subject “Within the context of the overall economic partnership”. Aaron raged: “This leaves fisheries wide open to being sacrificed yet again as negotiating capital using the agreement that markets and access are linked as the lever.
“If extended, the transition includes ALL EU law – including the CFP! The EU won’t make retrospective exemptions of areas like the CFP.”
Fishing for Leave also savaged the governments statement that “the UK will be an independent coastal state” saying this is no defence against the agreement. “The UK may officially, legally be an independent non-EU member, enforcing her laws under her own steam. However, these laws will be set subject to the wider fisheries agreement with the EU under the EUs stipulations above.”
FFL issued a stark warning to Scottish Tories: “Signing up to such a deal will see CFP associate membership and the culling of our industry further. Doing so will cost Scots Tories their seats and with that the Union they say they desire above all other things to protect. Self-interest, party and country are now all interlinked and all best served by voting against the PMs worst deal in history. We therefore call on Scots and all other Tory MPs to honour their pledge and vote this dreadful ‘vassal state’ deal down. Not just for fishing but for the nation as a whole.”