EU commission Brexit contingency plan on fisheries approved by Council

Published on December 16, 2020

All EU fishing vessels have equal access to Union waters as long as they follow the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). From 1 January 2021 the CFP will no longer apply to the United Kingdom and UK waters, territorial sea and adjacent exclusive economic zone, will no longer be part of the Union waters.

The European Council has therefore approved a regulation that would make it possible to keep fishing even without a Brexit-deal, but is depending on agreement with the UK. If and when this happens, fishing opportunities for 2021 will also have to be negotiated and also agreed with the UK.

To make it possible for EU and UK fishing vessels to continue to have access to each other’s waters as of 1 January 2021, a position on an EU regulation for access possibilities was adopted by the Fisheries Council on 15 December. This will regulate access arrangements until an EU-UK fisheries agreement is concluded or until the end of 2021, whichever comes first.

The proposed regulation is based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in particular Article 61 and 62. It creates a legal framework for EU and UK fishermen on how to grant them authorisations to continue fishing in each other’s waters after the end of the transition period – 31 December 2020.

As a contingency measure, in case of a no-deal, these authorisations could apply as of 1 January 2021 until 31 December 2021 (or earlier, if an EU-UK fisheries agreement is concluded). As a matter of urgency, the process of adopting this regulation has been fast-tracked; following the Council’s adoption of the mandate, the proposal will now be voted on by the European Parliament later this week. The Council and the European Parliament are working closely together to ensure that the regulation is adopted before the end of the year and enters into force on 1 January 2021.

Regarding fishing opportunities and quotas co-managed by the EU and the UK, these are envisaged on a preliminary and limited manner through a separate EU regulation, in consultation with the UK and until a final agreement is reached.