With Brexit talks stalling over the last few months, key issues still remain. The two critical issues are the Level Playing Field and Fisheries. Boris Johnson has always said that the UK would take back control of its waters as we prepare to leave the transition period.
Over the years the EU has had open access to fruitful fishing grounds around the British isles, many a time leaving the UK fisherman at a disadvantage as EU vessels took the greatest share of the catch quota. But times are changing as we leave the transition period.
If this was to happen, which is highly unlikely, the UK waters would be in joint hands, with the ECJ in place if conflicts arise. Any fishing agreement made with the trade deal wouldn’t be able to be changed in future unless the whole trade deal is reopened.
On the other hand, the UK has always said it wants to deal with fishing separately to the trade deal with the EU. This means the new system would make quotas variable year to year backed by evidence on the amount of fish in British waters.
The EU is unhappy with the UK having sole control over its sovereign waters. Mr Barnier said it was “unacceptable” for the UK to have control on who fishes in British waters and the quota their able to catch.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, accused the EU of “adopting entrenched views” that could hurt talks.
He said: “Looking to the future, international law is abundantly clear that upon exit, control over the UK exclusive economic zone will revert to the UK Government.”
“That will allow the UK to decide for our own waters who gets to catch what, where and when.”
“But it doesn’t mean we won’t be willing to negotiate access. The difference is that it will be on our terms.”
“Taking a hardline stance will not help as we move to the situation where international negotiations with the UK as a coastal state determine outcomes.”