No winners or losers yet in Brexit fish fight

Both sides have claimed victory on fisheries access in the Brexit deal.

Both sides are claiming that the deal endorsed Sunday by EU27 leaders hands them victory on the issue of fishing rights.

Theresa May last week told the British parliament that the U.K. has “firmly rejected a link between access to our waters and access to markets.”

“We will become an independent coastal state with control over our waters so our fishermen get a fairer share of the fish in our waters,” said the U.K. prime minister.

Yet French President Emmanuel Macron told journalists Sunday that the deal gives the EU considerable leverage to force the U.K. to grant access to its waters to EU-flagged boats. In particular, he suggested that exit from the Northern Ireland backstop could become contingent on an EU-friendly deal on fishing. That might become a key bargaining chip in talks on a future trade deal.

“We as 27 have a clear position on fair competition, on fish, on the subject of the EU’s regulatory autonomy, and that forms part of our lines for the future relationship talks,” said the French leader.

The winner of the Brexit fish fight won’t be determined until after March 29 next year.

“It is a lever, because it is in our mutual interest to have this future relationship. I can’t imagine that the desire of Theresa May or her supporters is to remain for the long term in a customs union, but to define a proper future relationship which resolves this problem.”

So who won?

Both sides can truthfully claim a victory of sorts because of the vague language in the 26-page Political Declaration, which accompanies the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement.

“Within the context of the overall economic partnership the Parties should establish a new fisheries agreement on, inter alia, access to waters and quota shares,” the text reads.

A ‘Fishing For Leave’ campaign group sign in Brixham, southern England | Robin Millard/AFP via Getty Images

So while the U.K. can rejoice that there isn’t any explicit language linking access to British waters for the European fleet with access to the EU market for U.K. fish products, the wording doesn’t prevent such a condition being added to a future trade deal.

That phrase “within the context of the overall economic partnership” leaves open just such a linkage.

May would prefer to see annual negotiations between the EU and the U.K. over the amount of fish that can be caught by each side. Norway, Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands all follow such an arrangement when it comes to fishing rights. Because the words in the Political Declaration are not binding, whether she gets it will depend on future talks.

“We’re not buying any of these stories, neither Mr. Macron’s or even the prime minister’s, until such time as it is signed sealed and delivered,” said the chief executive of the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation, Bertie Armstrong, on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland today.

As with so much else, the winner of the Brexit fish fight won’t be determined until after March 29 next year.

This insight is from POLITICO‘s Brexit Files newsletter, a daily afternoon digest of the best coverage and analysis of Britain’s decision to leave the EU available to Brexit Pro subscribers. Sign up here.


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The UK “will leave the European Union. We will then begin a new chapter in our national life.” May’s letter – full text

“I will be campaigning with my heart and soul to win that vote and to deliver this Brexit deal, for the good of our United Kingdom and all of our people.”

When I became your Prime Minister the United Kingdom had just voted to leave the European Union. From my first day in the job, I knew I had a clear mission before me – a duty to fulfil on your behalf: to honour the result of the referendum and secure a brighter future for our country by negotiating a good Brexit deal with the EU. Throughout the long and complex negotiations that have taken place over the last year and a half, I have never lost sight of that duty.

Today, I am in Brussels with the firm intention of agreeing a Brexit deal with the leaders of the other 27 EU nations. It will be a deal that is in our national interest – one that works for our whole country and all of our people, whether you voted ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’.

It will honour the result of the referendum. We will take back control of our borders, by putting an end to the free movement of people once and for all. Instead of an immigration system based on where a person comes from, we will build one based on the skills and talents a person has to offer. We will take back control of our money, by putting an end to vast annual payments to the EU. Instead, we will be able to spend British taxpayer’s money on our own priorities, like the extra £394 million per week that we are investing in our long-term plan for the NHS. And we will take back control of our laws, by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK. In future, our laws will be made, interpreted and enforced by our own courts and legislatures.

We will be out of EU programmes that do not work in our interests: out of the Common Agricultural Policy, that has failed our farmers, and out of the Common Fisheries Policy, that has failed our coastal communities. Instead, we will be able to design a system of agricultural support that works for us and we will be an independent coastal state once again, with full control over our waters.

The deal also protects the things we value. EU citizens who have built their lives in the United Kingdom will have their rights protected, as will UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU. A free trade area will allow goods to flow easily across our borers, protecting the many skilled obs right across the country that rely on integrated supply-chains. Because our European friends will always be our allies in the fight against terrorism and organised crime, the deal will ensure that security cooperation will continue, so we can keep our people safe.

As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I have from day one been determined to deliver a Brexit deal that works for every part of our country – for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for our Overseas Territories like Gibraltar, and also for the Crown Dependencies. This deal will do that. Crucially, it will protect the integrity of our United Kingdom and ensure that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland – so people can live their lives as they do now.

It is a deal for a brighter future, which enables us to seize the opportunities that lie ahead. Outside the EU, will will be able to sign new trade deals with other countries and open up new markets in the fastest-growing economies around the world. With Brexit settled, we will be able to focus our energies on the many other important issues facing us here at home: keeping our economy strong, and making sure every community shares in prosperity; securing our NHS for the future, giving every child a great start in life, and building the homes that families need; tackling the burning injustices that hold too many people back, and building a country for the future that truly works for everyone.

On 29 March next year, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. We will then begin a new chapter in our national life. I want that to be a moment of renewal and reconciliation for our whole country. It must mark the point when we put aside the lavels of ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ for good and we come together again as one people. To do that we need to get on with Brexit now by getting behind this deal.

Parliament will have the chance to do that in a few weeks’ time when it has a meaningful vote on the deal I hope to strike today. I will be campaigning with my heart and soul to win that vote and to deliver this Brexit deal, for the good of our United Kingdom and all of our people.”

Theresa May appeals over MPs’ heads for Brexit support

MPs on all sides of the House of Commons attacked the prime minister’s Brexit deal.

LONDON — Theresa May needs the country to save her.

The U.K. prime minister has a deal with Brussels, but nowhere near the numbers to deliver it in parliament, the body whose sovereignty Brexit is designed to restore.

Facing renewed criticism from all sides of the House of Commons, May looks increasingly unlikely to convince a majority of MPs to back the Brexit deal. And she’ll only have a matter of weeks to turn this around after EU leaders meet this Sunday in Brussels to formally approve both the text of the U.K.-EU divorce agreement and a separate political statement setting out a framework for future relations.

The 26-page Political Declaration, agreed in principle Thursday but still subject to minor amendments, is the document that is meant to map out the U.K.’s future once freed from the shackles of the EU. If the 585-page legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement is the foul-tasting medicine that Britain must take to extract itself from the EU, the declaration on the future is the sweet sugar to help that bitter pill go down.

Contained within are, for example, commitments that the U.K. will have its own trade policy and be able to end free movement — two of the prime arguments for Brexit — as well as promises of close security cooperation.

“Without going for an off-the-shelf model [for the future relationship] it’s impossible to give people the confidence in where we are heading” — U.K. minister

To be sure, there are less palatable compromises as well, but May will hope that the document does enough to win round some of the scores of her own MPs who are currently threatening to vote down the deal.

In the House of Commons Thursday, she made her pitch to MPs from all sides, hailing “a good deal for our country” and urging them to pull back from the brink.

Few showed a willingness to do so. From right to left, pro-Brexit to anti-Brexit, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Scottish National Party and Tory, they railed against the deal on offer. The Conservatives alone are three MPs short of the 318 working majority needed to pass a deal. By some counts there are already more than 80 MPs who have vowed to vote it down.

“She’s boxed in badly,” one minister texted to say as he sat in the House of Commons chamber listening to the attacks pile up on the PM. “Without going for an off-the-shelf model [for the future relationship] it’s impossible to give people the confidence in where we are heading.”

Officials across the political spectrum have criticized May’s Brexit deal | Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

Given the dire numbers in parliament, May is no longer limiting her pitch to parliament. The public at large is now her audience.

Before addressing MPs, the prime minister strode out of Number 10 Downing Street to appeal directly to voters. “The British people want this to be settled,” she said. “They want a good deal that sets us on course for a brighter future. That deal is within our grasp and I am determined to deliver it.”

The document agreed between the European Commission and the U.K. on Thursday appeared to unite the key political factions in parliament ranged against May’s plan.

While the prime minister was able to claim that her plan met all of the Labour Party’s tests and all of former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s at the same time, this only worked to confirm concerns on both sides that the political declaration did not really deliver anything at all.

The document leaves the shape of Britain’s final settlement with Brussels to be decided after Brexit. The U.K. can choose a tightly-bound Norwegian-style relationship or a looser free trade deal like Canada’s for Great Britain, with special arrangements for Northern Ireland.

In her House of Commons statement, May highlighted that the Political Declaration “ends free movement once and for all” and contained an “explicit reference to development of an independent trade policy” — both key demands of Euroskeptics in her party.

Tory MP and Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has spoken out against May’s Brexit deal | Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

She also trumpeted the success in fending off an EU demand to trade off access to U.K. fisheries. “We would become an independent coastal state, with control over our waters so our fishermen get a fairer share of the fish in our waters,” she said. “We have firmly rejected a link between access to our waters and access to markets.”

But Brexiteer Conservative MPs, including Johnson, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and chair of the Euroskeptic European Research Group Jacob Rees-Mogg, all criticized the document following May’s statement.

Johnson told MPs that “nothing in this Political Declaration changes the hard reality of the Withdrawal Agreement, which gives the EU a continuing veto over the unilateral power of the entire United Kingdom to do free trade deals or to take back control of our laws.”

He added: “We can accept the generalities and self-contradictions contained in this Political Declaration, but we should junk forthwith the backstop, upon which the future economic partnership — according to this Political Declaration — is to be based, and which makes a complete nonsense of Brexit.”

In a similar vein, Raab said: “The top reason people voted to leave the EU was to take back democratic control over our laws. Isn’t it the regrettable but inescapable reality that this deal gives even more away?”

May’s Northern Irish backers, the Democratic Unionist Party, also renewed their criticism, as did the opposition Labour party.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned the political declaration as “26 pages of waffle.”

Concerns among Brexiteers still center on the Northern Ireland backstop, the legal guarantee to avoid a hard border in Ireland and the bitterest pill to swallow for many Brexiteers in the Withdrawal Agreement published last week.

While Johnson called on May to “junk” the backstop, fellow Brexiteers Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson, both of whom had lobbied May to change her Brexit plan, declared themselves unsatisfied.

Brexiteers also expressed concern that the Withdrawal Agreement and future relationship provided for a continuing indirect role for the European Court of Justice.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned the political declaration as “26 pages of waffle.”

May said, in response to criticism, that it was her “firm intention” that the backstop would never come into force and that the U.K. would instead have entered a permanent, fully-negotiated future relationship by the time of the next general election, scheduled to take place by June 2022.

On Saturday, May will travel to Brussels for talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, designed to ensure there are no last-minute problems before EU leaders meet on Sunday to sign off both the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration.

May will then have a matter of days to rally the country, her party and parliament behind the deal before a vote in the House of Commons, expected some time in the first week of December.

Asked how it was looking Thursday afternoon as he sat a few feet away from the prime minister on the front bench, the Conservative minister texted back: “Ropey.”


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First impressions of the Political Declaration

Following his analysis of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, which you can read on the BrexitCentral website here, Lee Rotherham has had an initial read of the Political Declaration, and shares his first impressions of the document below: Introduction Paragraph 3 endorses the ‘four pillar’ approach pushed by HMG. Inevitably the UK will end up with closer […]

The post First impressions of the Political Declaration appeared first on BrexitCentral.

Following his analysis of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, which you can read on the BrexitCentral website here, Lee Rotherham has had an initial read of the Political Declaration, and shares his first impressions of the document below:

Introduction

  • Paragraph 3 endorses the ‘four pillar’ approach pushed by HMG. Inevitably the UK will end up with closer JHA and military cooperation than many people will be happy with.
  • Paragraph 3 also includes its own new form of elastic clause (cf Arts 94, 95, 308) which were problematic: “the future relationship may encompass areas of cooperation beyond those described in this political declaration”. This approach has always been a risk over greater integration.
  • Paragraph 4 is a positive: the question arises as to the extent of its justiciability when clashing against contradictory elements.
  • Paragraph 5 might end up being be marketed as a pledge over equivalence/mutual recognition of difference standards. Caveats: it is aspirational rather than directional; and doesn’t actually guarantee to deliver what was said at Florence.

PART I: INITIAL PROVISIONS

I. BASIS FOR COOPERATION

A. Core values and rights

  • Paragraph 7 is intriguing. The EU remains committed to the ECHR but HMG is only expected to “respect the framework”. Albeit vague, does this anticipate HMG will in the future sort out the muddle of the HRA98/Common Law-Strasbourg clashes?

II. AREAS OF SHARED INTEREST

A. Participation in Union programmes

  • Paragraph 11 – that’s quite a large list of areas the UK will participate in. This has significant implications for UK contributions. There is no commitment to these being assessed by juste retour which is the treaty norm, ie pay in, get roughly that much back. The list itself is a bit contentious.
  • That same principle (and link) applies to Culture and Education, seen in Brussels as the building blocks to building ‘homo europeensis’ – the EU National.
  • EU Overseas Development has also been part of the EU PR aspect, as can be seen in a review of the publicity commitments that people receiving EU money have to sign. UK aid should be UK flagged. There’s also more confidence in it not being subject to fraud and waste.
  • Defence capabilities is alarming because, as @VeteransBritain demonstrates, we risk being glued to PESCO, while damaging our own defence industries (there’s a key paper on that coming out shortly). Civil protection is duplicating regional and global work done by the UN.
  • If there is to be “provisions allowing for sound financial management”, can we at least get a public statement by the EU that they will finally get round to sorting out the outstanding cases of the whistleblowers? … and can we have a parallel statement by HMG committing to better oversight? Some background and practical recommendations here.

B. Dialogues

  • Paragraph 15 suggests we might end up still committing to the EIB, where we pay in twice as much as we see invested back.

PART II: ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP

I. OBJECTIVES AND PRINCIPLES

  • Paragraph 19 The NI backstop, of course, is still in. The commitment to it, and to the possible replacement, is the same wording as in the original Recital.

II. GOODS

A. Objectives and principles

  • Paragraph 21: ” the Parties will form separate markets and distinct legal orders.” The latter was slightly less explicitly stated in the original (“respecting the Parties’ legal orders”). Now underlined here. That was good news, but undermined by the following para, beginning with a major “However”! “comprehensive arrangements” will include “deep regulatory and customs cooperation, underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition” Not so good.

B. Tariffs

  • It’s hard to look at paragraph 23 and not conclude that it’s a customs union. It’s pretty well a dictionary definition.

C. Regulatory aspects

  • Paragraph 25 is the Poisoned Clause. Para 24 says there will be wonderful regulatory alignment. Para 25 says the UK will be the one doing the aligning. So the model will be a Fax Democracy.

D. Customs

  • Paragraph 26 then is the Paradox Clause, identifying some of the mechanisms that avoid the need for a hard border while elsewhere saying it’s the NI default. As. reading on, it states in paragraph 27!

III. SERVICES AND INVESTMENT

A. Objectives and principles

  •  Paragraph 29 – a target on Services: what you can get from a Canada+ …

C. Regulatory aspects

  • Paragraph 34 – not sure what this entails in terms of anticipated limitations on UK legislation and legislative procedure. It implies constraints on Parliament. That is mitigated by the intergovernmental approach slightly developed in para 35, but inclusion still may carry implications.

IV. FINANCIAL SERVICES

  • Not sure why in paragraph 37 the commitment to both parties obligation to maintain market stability is included. The fact that this is not self-evident is of itself a point of interest. Could the EU in the future cite any UK economic action as a breach of this commitment, ergo no deal? “fair competition” – an instance of ‘fairness’ being in the eye of the beholder.

VI. CAPITAL MOVEMENTS AND PAYMENTS

  • Capital movement in paragraph 43: “relevant exceptions” seems a little vague but there may be established legal trade terminology underpinning this.

 

VII. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

  • A double win for the French: droit de suite stays, to the detriment of London over NY/Zurich/Shanghai/Dubai. Directly inferred (but curiously not stated: “inter alia”) – foodstuffs geographical indicators stays.

 

VIII. PUBLIC PROCUREMENT

  • Paragraph 49 – EU attempting to keep open its access to UK public procurement. NB the UK is a disproportionately heavy and fair user of the EU database system. (To UK taxpayer advantage ultimately – but a hit vs. Corbyn)

 

X. TRANSPORT

A. Aviation

  • Paragraph 60. Would be useful to know how long it would be assessed to take to get a bridging CATA (Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement) in place for a default WTO+ scenario. The same applies for the mutuality clause (relevant for hauliers) under paragraph 62.

D. Maritime transport

  • Paragraph 65 – Reassuring to see that the UK will not be signing up to membership of all Euroquangos. See here for many more missed off this text which may not yet have been decided on: theredcell.co.uk/uploads/9/6/4/…

XI. ENERGY

A. Electricity and Gas

  • Paragraph 66 – a commitment for the UK to keep buying French energy into the future, and to keep the N-S Ireland power grid going.
  • Paragraph 67 generates a possible concern in the commitment to provide “security of supply” – a phrase historically used when the Commission has eyed up taking over North Sea reserves! A bit more difficult now but this may still generate obligations/expectations in a crisis.

C. Carbon pricing

  • Paragraph 72 – continued expectations of the UK to remain locked into historically disastrous EU carbon schemes – see this excellent tome.
  • I suspect CBI elements would be majorly split on review of how that might develop. Especially when comparing UK grants and costs with other EU and non-EU recipients.

 

XII. FISHING OPPORTUNITIES

  • Paragraph 74 – reference to non-discrimination over fisheries management bodes very ill. By definition, taking back control implies UK fishermen get first dibs, and the UK fleet grows back through new catch opportunities.
  • Paragraph 75 – there will be a new quota system. This is not good for the UK. Hard to see commitment to becoming “an independent coastal state” compatible with agreeing to joint fisheries, which by definition must be within UK reclaimed territorial waters (or they would fall outside national remits).
  • Goodbye CFP. Hello CFP II.

 

XIII. GLOBAL COOPERATION

  • Paragraph 77 I suspect is about simply authorising the FCO to be in the same room at EU27 diplo-planning meetings. The problem comes where less experienced and outnumbered officials go with the flow, since core policy will have been agreeed at Bxlles first.

 

II. LAW ENFORCEMENT AND JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN CRIMINAL MATTERS

  • Paragraph 83 – The more the UK wants from the JHA pillar, the greater its obligations will be. A problem given the Home Office has always wanted to sign up to more things than Conservative backbenchers. The paragraph also gives an entrée to Fundamental Rights principles, and undermines the possibly-inferred ECHR fixing cited earlier.

 

B. Operational cooperation between law enforcement authorities and judicial
cooperation in criminal matters

  • The UK will still be working closely with Europol (para 88) and related areas. A take on this side of things here

 

III. FOREIGN POLICY, SECURITY AND DEFENCE

  • On external action including Defence, there will be “ambitious, close and lasting cooperation” (paragraph 92). Problematic if you are trying to discourage counterparts from undermining NATO.

 

D. Defence capabilities development

  • Paragraph 104 still leaves the door half open with respect to the UK sidling alongside EU Defence Union agenda developments. But I wonder if the negotiators have been told to toughen this up a bit to underline separate Defence industries. Still caveated with “to the extent possible”

 

C. Health security

  • On Health Security (para 115), worth noting the risk of duplication with in particular WHO’s mandate
  • The EU treaty competency was largely introduced through political ambition.

 

A. Strategic direction and dialogue

  • Paragraph 125: encouraging civil society dialogue has never ended particularly well with Brussels. It ends up with “Brussels talking to Brussels”, closed loops, and the full panoply of this crowd.

D. Dispute settlement

  • Paragraph 133 – positive. Disputes settled by an independent panel.
  • Paragraph 134 – problematic. CJEU resolves disputes over interpreting EU law first. A critical role for the CJEU in setting the parameters for the dispute panel.

 

I. BEFORE WITHDRAWAL

  • Paragraph 142 – the implication is a timeframe and schedule. If so, it means dawdling would get spotted. But what then, if it looks like an end deal will not be delivered in a timely manner? Nothing stated. There is still no exit clause to the Transition Agreement.
  • The provision to have review meetings every six months (paragraph 147) does not in itself suggest a high tempo.

Excuse ‘gaps and flaps’ – this has been a first read and at speed.

Overall, the curate’s egg. A number of issues left unresolved, a couple of critical ones exacerbated. But at least we are a bit clearer on what the TA is supposed to lead to, for good and bad.

The post First impressions of the Political Declaration appeared first on BrexitCentral.

Draft text aims for ‘ambitious, wide-ranging’ post-Brexit partnership

Political declaration document considered by EU27 ambassadors.

The U.K.’s future relationship with the EU post-Brexit will be an “ambitious, wide-ranging and balanced economic partnership,” according to a draft copy of the political declaration document seen by POLITICO that will accompany the Brexit divorce treaty.

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted that the text had been “agreed at negotiators’ level and agreed in principle at political level, subject to the endorsement of the [EU] Leaders.”

The text has grown from a seven-page summary published last week alongside the 585-page draft Withdrawal Agreement, but negotiations on its content are expected to continue right up to the eve of an EU leaders summit on Sunday. After their meeting last night, the Theresa May said she would return Saturday for further talks with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Provisions in the political declaration include:

— A commitment on goods trade for the EU and U.K. to negotiate “a free trade area, combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation, underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition.” That is a nod to the “near-frictionless” trade promised by May, but appears to fall short of her proposal for a common rule book that would mean the U.K. effectively remaining within the EU Single Market for goods.

— On the Northern Ireland backstop, the document says “The Parties recall their determination to replace the backstop solution on Northern Ireland by a subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing.” That is likely designed to help Theresa May sell the deal to her MPs, many of whom are deeply unhappy about the backstop.

— A plan to “build and improve on the single customs territory provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement.” That will be controversial with U.K. Brexiteers because it suggests that customs arrangements included in the Northern Ireland backstop will form the basis for the future relationship — providing severe restrictions on any future trade deals. But, the draft agreement states that the future customs union will “build and improve on the single customs territory provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement which obviates the need for checks on rules of origin.”

— A commitment to “explore the possibility of cooperation of United Kingdom authorities with Union agencies such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).” The EU has been resistant to the idea of associate membership for the U.K. of EU agencies. This looks like a softening of that line.

— On customs, the document says that “facilitative arrangements and technologies will also be considered in developing any alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing.” This leaves open the possibility of using new technology to prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland in future.

— On financial services, both parties pledge to begin proceedings to assess “equivalence” of each others rules immediately after Brexit day.

— On services, the EU and U.K. want to “conclude ambitious, comprehensive and balanced arrangements on trade in services and investment in services and non-services sectors, respecting each Party’s right to regulate.”

— On movement of people, there is a commitment to “establish mobility arrangements … based on non-discrimination between the Union’s Member States and full reciprocity.” These would allow visa-free travel or short-term visits and both sides “agree to consider conditions for entry and stay for purposes such as research, study, training and youth exchanges.”

— On fisheries, there is a no clear mention of an EU demand that access to EU markets for U.K. fishermen in a future trade deal should be contingent on access to U.K. waters. The text is pretty vague and says that “within the context of the overall economic partnership the Parties should establish a new fisheries agreement on, inter alia, access to waters and quota shares” adding that “the Parties will use their best endeavours to conclude and ratify their new fisheries agreement by 1 July 2020 in order for it to be in place in time to be used for determining fishing opportunities for the first year after the transition period.”

— On security, the document envisages a “broad, comprehensive and balanced security partnership” including data sharing of Passenger Name Record data and DNA, fingerprints and vehicle registration data for combatting crime.

— On data, the document envisages a deal by 2020: “In view of the importance of data flows and exchanges across the future relationship, the Parties are committed to ensuring a high level of personal data protection to facilitate such flows between them. The Union’s data protection rules provide for a framework allowing the European Commission to recognise a third country’s data protection standards as providing an adequate level of protection, thereby facilitating transfers of personal data to that third country.”

— On the European Investment Bank the two sides say they will “explore options for a future relationship with the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group.”

— The document does not mention Gibraltar.

Trade, Gibraltar and fish dominate final Brexit talks

Brexit talks continued into the night Tuesday, just hours before a planned visit to Brussels by Theresa May.

Just hours before Theresa May heads to Brussels to put the final touches to a Brexit deal with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, negotiators are still grappling with major points of disagreement between the two sides — notably on fisheries, Gibraltar and the rules governing trade in goods.

Intense discussions continued Tuesday night, with the talks centering on May’s controversial proposal for the U.K. to stay effectively within the EU single market for goods but not services, three EU27 diplomats confirmed.

EU leaders have long referred to that as a threat to the integrity of the single market and in a briefing for ambassadors Tuesday night, Sabine Weyand, the EU deputy chief negotiator, sought to reassure member countries. She said Brussels would stick to its red lines, telling them the EU was “not compromising on anything.”

“We are not stuck. We’re still working on it. Goods will be discussed tonight [Tuesday],” said one EU diplomat.

The U.K.’s proposal is to maintain a free-flowing goods trade by adopting a common rule book with the EU, while removing trade tariffs and quotas. That is central to the so-called Chequers plan agreed by the U.K. Cabinet in July at May’s eponymous country residence.

“Spain [is] not convinced yet on Gibraltar and causing some serious waves” — EU diplomat

The plan is unpopular with Brexiteers in her own party because it will mean that after Brexit the U.K. is subject to EU rules that is has no control over, but it is central to May’s aim of maintaining near frictionless trade in goods with the bloc. For the EU, it would jeopardize the single market by allowing unfair competition for British businesses.

While ambassadors were united in their desire to defend the integrity of the EU single market, there were also signs at the meeting of tensions between member countries over the final stages of the talks. While Spain has made no secret in recent days that it is not happy with the wording on future negotiations regarding Gibraltar, the diplomat from one founding EU27 country warned against pushing the U.K. too far and insisting on a text it could not sign up to. The diplomat said his country’s leader would only attend a hastily convened special summit in Brussels on Sunday if the agreement had been finalized by then.

“Leaders cannot be involved in drafting and some of them have made clear they will show up only if the deal is closed,” said a second EU diplomat.

The talks are now focused less on the 585-page draft Withdrawal Agreement published last week that sets out the legally binding terms of Britain’s departure from the EU, but more on the political declaration that will be agreed alongside it. A much vaguer seven-page summary of that document setting out an outline of the U.K.’s future relationship with the bloc has already been made public. Weyand told ambassadors she now expects that text to grow to 22 or 23 pages.

Gibraltar remains a point of contention and disagreement in Brexit talks | Jorge Guerrero/AFP via Getty Images

May has herself emphasized the vital nature of the document, telling the BBC on Sunday that “the thing that’s going to make a difference to people’s lives is the future relationship … It’s in the national interest to get that deal right.”

That sentiment was repeated at the meeting Tuesday evening, with one diplomat from a major EU country saying that it could not be approved by negotiators without sign off from member countries. After two years of EU27 unity during the negotiations, they could not “fall at the final hurdle,” the diplomat said.

On fisheries, Weyand told ambassadors there is still “divergence.” The U.K. wants a Norway-style arrangement where catch quotas are renegotiated on an annual basis. But it has said this will result in less access than EU27 fleets currently enjoy. France and other countries are pushing for the political declaration to make clear that a future U.K.-EU free trade deal will depend on the U.K. offering similar access to its waters as it currently does.

On Gibraltar, Weyand told ambassadors there is currently “total blockage” on the issue, one diplomat said. Spain is adamant the text must make clear that the EU’s negotiations on its future relationship with the disputed territory must be conducted separately to those with the U.K. — and that they can only proceed with Madrid’s approval.

“Spain [is] not convinced yet on Gibraltar and causing some serious waves,” one EU diplomat said. In an interview with POLITICO on Tuesday, the country’s foreign minister, Josep Borrell, said his government wants a clear statement in the text.

“There will be specific negotiations about Gibraltar between the European Union and the United Kingdom but for these agreements Spain … has to agree,” he said.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is finishing up work on a Brexit deal with British Prime Minister Theresa May | Aris Oikonomou/AFP via Getty Images

On other specific points, Weyand said the political declaration will include: a statement on cooperation between the U.K. Civil Aviation Agency and its EU counterpart the European Aviation Safety Agency to avoid travel disruption; U.K. participation in the Galileo satellite program, but only as a third country; a governance arrangement for the future relationship similar to the Withdrawal Agreement, with the European Court of Justice acting as the sole arbiter of EU law. The only exception to that would be “when national security is at play,” said one EU diplomat who spoke to POLITICO.

If Juncker and May are able to conclude a deal at their meeting Wednesday afternoon, EU ambassadors will meet again on Thursday to discuss the final text. A separate meeting of prime ministerial EU advisers (so-called sherpas) will happen Friday so that leaders can be briefed on the final deal before the Sunday summit, at which the full package will receive formal sign off. At that point it will still need to be ratified by the U.K. and EU parliaments.

A U.K. government official declined to comment on which topics were dominating the final stages of the talks, saying only: “Negotiations are ongoing.”

Charlie Cooper contributed reporting.


Read this next: Spanish foreign minister: UK will split before Spain

Fishermen warn that the Withdrawal Agreement lets the EU seize our waters forever

The Fisheries Bill is due for its Second Reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the first time the Government has attempted to take back sovereignty of UK waters for forty years. But all is not going to plan for UK fishermen. Fishing For Leave say they are “apoplectic” but “vindicated” by the recent […]

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The Fisheries Bill is due for its Second Reading in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the first time the Government has attempted to take back sovereignty of UK waters for forty years.

But all is not going to plan for UK fishermen. Fishing For Leave say they are “apoplectic” but “vindicated” by the recent EU briefing that Britain “would have to swallow a link between access to products and fisheries in future agreements” after the transition period as part of a deal.

The campaign group say they have been warning for the last 12 months that re-obeying all EU law in a transition would ultimately become a permanent arrangement.

Aaron Brown, who leads the group, warns that re-obeying EU law will allow the EU to enforce detrimental laws to grind down the remainder of the British fleet through use of international law by claiming the “surplus” resources Britain would no longer have the fleet to catch.

The campaign, which led the Battle of the Thames before the referendum, say a clean Brexit where Britain takes back full control over its waters could create an industry worth £6-8 billion, making it more significant than the UK-based car industry.

Brown called for an “economic link” whereby British boats must be sixty per cent British-owned and sixty per cent British-crewed – and that sixty per cent of landings, sales and processing should be in Britain.

You can listen to our recent podcast with Fishing for Leave below and you can subscribe to our latest podcasts on iTunes and Soundcloud.

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The Prime Minister’s cave-in to Brussels’ demands on fishing rights is unacceptable

History often teaches us lessons that we can learn from as we move forward. In 1971, in response to the UK’s application to join the European Economic Community, the original six member states insisted on equal access to UK fishing waters. The then Conservative Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath, agreed – and after more than […]

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History often teaches us lessons that we can learn from as we move forward.

In 1971, in response to the UK’s application to join the European Economic Community, the original six member states insisted on equal access to UK fishing waters. The then Conservative Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath, agreed – and after more than a decade of negotiations about the share of the fish stock within those waters, the UK accepted a proposed share which fell far short of the quantity from which we should have benefited. Indeed, off the Cornish coast the UK share is approximately 10% of haddock and 8% of cod whereby the French Government secured around 70% of each stock.

British fishermen felt that they had been thrown a lifeline when the UK voted to Leave the European Union. They felt they could face their future with optimism for the first time in over 40 years.

They were also promised by the Prime Minister, Environment Secretary and many senior Cabinet figures that the UK would be leaving the Common Fisheries Policy and that the fish stocks in our waters would be governed by Article 61, 62 and 63 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The wording of this Convention is very important because it makes clear that the UK must act responsibly when setting the total amount of fish that can be taken from our waters (200-mile to median line limit). It also makes clear that the UK domestic fleet can take the whole of that fish, but if our fleet cannot, then the surplus can be made available to other nations.

One would think this means that the UK fleet can benefit considerably from a larger catch after 11pm on 29th March 2019. Sadly, this is not the case because of the Prime Minister’s agreement on an implementation period of 21 months.

At the time this was first proposed, MPs from fishing constituencies – including me – met with the Prime Minister and said that any implementation for fisheries should only apply until 31st December 2019. The EU would not accept this and the UK Government caved in and agreed that UK fishermen would have to stick to the same share they received under the Common Fisheries Policy of a further 21 months. UK fishermen reluctantly accepted this.

The Withdrawal Agreement, which has now been published, contains a proposal that the implementation period can be extended and that the UK can only withdraw from the Northern Irish backstop with the agreement of the EU. What is the problem with, this one could ask?

On Wednesday morning (14th November), it was reported that Sabine Weyand, Michel Barnier’s deputy who leads the EU’s negotiations at a technical level, said that the UK would be forced to concede on fisheries as part of a withdrawal agreement, meaning Britain would have to “swallow a link between access to products and fisheries in future agreements”.

The Prime Minister and Environment Secretary have said repeatedly that they would not use UK fish as a currency to buy into the market. I therefore fear that any future trade negotiations would result in stalemate and we would be tied into the backstop indefinitely, or UK fish stocks would be used to buy into a trade deal with the EU.

After fighting for fairness for our fishermen for almost 30 years, I cannot let them, my country or the UK down. And that is why I have submitted my letter of no confidence in Theresa May to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee.

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4 steps to UK’s Brexit future

Theresa May’s draft deal sets out the steps to a future UK-EU relationship

It may not feel like it after a bruising few days, but Theresa May is one step closer to a Brexit deal. However, there’s still a long way to go before she can run through a field of wheat in celebration.

Here’s the path to the U.K.’s eventual future relationship with the EU in (a maximum of) 4 stages.

It looks like we’re seeing another betrayal of the British fishing industry

Forty years on it looks as though Theresa May has taken a leaf out of Ted Heath’s Book of Betrayal in her treatment of British fishing. In his rush to get into the Common Market, Ted betrayed fishing by accepting a Common Fisheries Policy cobbled together just before our entry negotiations by the six existing […]

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Forty years on it looks as though Theresa May has taken a leaf out of Ted Heath’s Book of Betrayal in her treatment of British fishing. In his rush to get into the Common Market, Ted betrayed fishing by accepting a Common Fisheries Policy cobbled together just before our entry negotiations by the six existing members to get access to the rich fishing grounds off Norway and Britain.

The CFP required “equal access to a common resource”. We contributed two thirds of the fish stocks to that common resource but were graciously given only a third of our own fish back. That meant a massive run down in our fishing industry. It eliminated any prospect of rebuilding it within our own waters as every other fishing nation was able to do when the UN accepted that fishing limits should be extended to 200 miles.

Under the CFP, English fishing got a meagre six-mile limit which was regularly infringed. “North Britain” – which didn’t include the North East or Yorkshire – got 12 miles, resulting in disaster for the English industry and damage to the Scots.

Brussels decided who could catch what in our waters and tried to keep everyone happy by handing out paper fish. Policing was a nightmare. French trawlers occasionally trawled right up to the Yorkshire coast, destroying British lobster pots. Beam trawlers damaged our grounds. I found on a fishery protection vessel that while British vessels were assiduously policed, foreign vessels breaking the rules could simply nip over the median line to escape prosecution.

Finally, to add insult to industry, the EU court decided in the Factortame case that European fishing companies could hop the quotas by taking over British companies and catching their British quota too. Indeed, chairing a fishing committee visit to Spain I was introduced to the Chairman of the Fleetwood vessel owners. He spoke little English.

This farce should end with Brexit. The CFP isn’t based on either the Single Market or the Customs Union, though “fishery products” are. Yet now the CFP is to be extended over the transition period so catches will continue to be determined by Brussels until 2020. After that, Michel Barnier’s deputy, Sabine Weyand, has announced the UK will “have to swallow a link between access to products and fisheries”, meaning unless we continue the CFP, they’ll keep out our fish exports.

That’s unacceptable. It means continuous control over fishing, more disputes like the battle between British and French vessels and no rebuilding of British fishing. We can be sure that at the end of a transition period in which we have no say and no negotiating weapons, Spain, France, Denmark and Holland – which depend on their British catches – will fight to keep them. Even that’s assuming the EU ever allows us to end the transition.

That means little control of our own waters. It means no year-by-year gradual reduction in EU catches, no stock swaps with nations like Norway which control their own stocks. Crucially it will deter investment in rebuilding our British industry to fish in our own, once rich, waters. Who’s going to put money into fishing without the certainty that British fishermen will get sustainable catching of our own fish?

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