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Norway backs EU fishing policies remaining during Brexit transition

Norway has backed the EU’s stance on fishing during the Brexit transition period.
Norway has backed the EU’s stance on fishing during the Brexit transition period. Photograph: Alamy

The EU’s insistence that quotas under the common fisheries policy for the seas around the UK will remain in force during a Brexit transition period has been backed up by the Norwegian government, dealing a fresh blow for Downing Street.

Pers Sandberg, the Norwegian fisheries minister, said he expected talks between the EU, UK and Norway over fishing rights to be complex and likely to conclude at the end of a transition period.

Norway is not part of the CFP but has agreements with the EU to allow mutual access to waters and markets, and will play a key role in talks about a future arrangement.

On Thursday the Guardian revealed that Brussels diplomats were agreed that Britain should effectively remain governed by the EU’s CFP for at least 21 months after Brexit day while not having a role in deciding the size of catches elsewhere in Europe.

Yet, Michael Gove, the environment secretary, reportedly suggested to the cabinet last year that the UK would “take back control” of its waters on Brexit day, with new quotas on every type of fish, from herring to crabs, lobsters and cold-water prawns.

EU citizens

  • EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the rest of the EU have the right to stay. Rights of their children and those of partners in existing “durable relationships” are also guaranteed.
  • UK courts will preside over enforcing rights over EU citizens in Britain but can refer unclear cases to the European court of justice for eight years after withdrawal.

Irish border

  • The agreement promises to ensure there will be no hard border and to uphold the Belfast agreement.
  • It makes clear the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland, will be leaving the customs union.
  • It leaves unclear how an open border will be achieved but says in the absence of a later agreement, the UK will ensure “full alignment” with the rules of the customs union and single market that uphold the Good Friday agreement. 
  • However, the concession secured by the DUP is that no new regulatory barriers will be allowed between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK without the permission of Stormont in the interest of upholding the Good Friday agreement.

Money

  • There is no figure on how much the UK is expected to pay but the document sets out how the bill will be calculated – expected to be between £35bn and £39bn.
  • The UK agrees to continue to pay into the EU budget as normal in 2019 and 2020.
  • It also agrees to pay its liabilities such as pension contributions.

Other issues

  • The two sides agreed there would be need for cooperation on nuclear regulation and police and security issues.
  • There was an agreement to ensure continued availability of products on the market before withdrawal and to minimise disruption for businesses and consumers.

The Scottish Fishing Federation, which has been lobbying for a 21% increase in the UK’s share of the total North Sea cod quota, among other demands, described the EU position as unacceptable.

Sandberg, who has been Norway’s fisheries minister for four years, said it was important to his government, however, that a transition period was put in place for the fisheries sector to allow for successful talks over the future.

Sandberg said: “To accommodate the future three-party setting between EU, Norway and UK we need to establish a new legal and institutional framework for management of joint fish stocks in the North Sea.

“We will need to agree on complex issues such as how to organise access to fish in each other’s waters, cooperate on surveillance and control, and maybe develop a system for exchange of fishing opportunities.

“Undoubtedly, there will be challenging issues, but we are not starting from scratch. A key goal is to secure a smooth transition period and finish in time to avoid any vacuum in the institutional arrangements that can hamper the fisheries in the North Sea”.

This article titled "Norway backs EU fishing policies remaining during Brexit transition" was written by Daniel Boffey, for theguardian.com on Friday 12 January 2018 01.38pm

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