MEPs ask UK to refrain from protectionist measures in fisheries
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MEPs ask UK to refrain from protectionist measures in fisheries

  • Need stable and predictable fishing conditions in UK waters, less protectionism
  • Brexit has destabilised relations between North Atlantic coastal states
  • Commission must consider all options available to ensure EU fishers’ rights

EU-UK relationship must act in good faith after Brexit, otherwise the Commission should be ready to protect the EU fleet’s fishing rights in the North-East Atlantic, said MEPs on Tuesday.

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) has now been in place for a year, and MEPs have witnessed some obstacles to its implementation and emerging issues in the fisheries field. They deplore the fact that the TCA gradually reduces the share of the European fleet’s fishing opportunities in UK waters by 25% over a five-and-a-half-year period.

Less unilateralism, more good faith

MEPs are concerned about the UK’s unilateral and protectionist measures, which limit fishing licences for EU vessels in the Crown Dependencies. They urge the UK to refrain from controversial actions in a resolution adopted by 619 votes to 12 and five abstentions on Tuesday. MEPs want the Commission to consider all options to ensure that the rights of EU vessels are respected, including limiting the UK’s access to EU ports or restricting the import of fisheries products.

The EU-UK relationship must be anchored in a spirit of good faith and neighbourliness that would lead to stable and predictable conditions for fishers now and after the transition period ending in June 2026.

Speaking at a debate ahead of the vote, EP rapporteur Manuel Pizarro (S&D, PT) stressed: “We call on the United Kingdom to abstain from protectionist measures, to guarantee stable and predictable conditions for fishers. Fisheries relations should be based upon good governance of the oceans and good neighbourly relations.

Nonetheless, we encourage the Commission to consider all options to guarantee EU fishers’ rights, including limiting UK vessels’ access to EU ports or fisheries products. These may be seen as extreme measures, but they should nevertheless be considered because they could be a necessary tool to protect our fishers.”

Brexit impact on EU fleet operating in other parts of the world

The resolution says that Brexit has destabilised relations between North Atlantic coastal states, resulting in Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands taking unilateral decisions that negatively affect fish stocks and the EU’s fishing fleet, such as the EU’s loss of Svalbard’s cod quota.

MEPs call on the Commission to work on appropriate solutions with other coastal states on better control and fisheries management measures in line with the Common Fisheries Policy and the Green Deal.

Monitoring the agreement

MEPs call for the Specialised Committee on Fisheries, which will monitor the implementation of the agreement and will be responsible for taking decisions that are fair to both parties, to be set up swiftly. MEPs want it to be more transparent and receive regularly updates on this committee’s work.