There is a unanimous desire among Member States to negotiate the European Union’s position in the consultations with the United Kingdom in order to reach agreement on the total allowable fish catches for 2021 and – for certain deep-sea fish population units – for 2021 and 2022, so as to be able to respond to the sector’s needs.
The informal videoconference of Fisheries Ministers, chaired by the Portuguese Minister of Maritime Affairs, Ricardo Serrão Santos, addressed the need to bring this process to a rapid conclusion, “since all the decisions should be taken by 31 March”. In December 2020, the European Ministers reached agreement on provisional quotas, which now have to be replaced by definitive rights.
Recalling that these are the first consultations to have taken place, the Minister of Maritime Affairs noted that the negotiations should always be carried out between the Member States and the European Commission, “at every level”.
Ricardo Serrão Santos and the European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, agreed that the negotiations proceeded “correctly”. “In these weeks we have had informal meetings with the United Kingdom and heard the Member States’ opinions. We have defined the main elements of a comprehensive package to be put forward by the European Union,” the European Commissioner explained.
This proposal should always take into account the provisions of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the European Union Common Fisheries Policy. Virginijus Sinkevičius considers these negotiations a “very important sign of unity and a good working base”, and is confident regarding compliance with the time-limits to reach an agreement “which guarantees the continuity of our fishermen’s activities in relation to the species shared with the United Kingdom”.
The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union will be presenting a compromise text relating to the Council’s decision, “in order to reflect the ministers’ points of view and the suggestions for redaction presented beforehand by the delegations”. These suggestions will be presented on 3 March at a COREPER I meeting, with a view to allowing the speedy adoption by written procedure.
At the Council of Fisheries Ministers of 25 January, the Member States mandated the European Commission to commence the negotiation consultations with the United Kingdom. This enabled them to make a start on defining the allowable catch details for 2021, as well as for the biennium 2021-2022, in connection with deep-sea species.