the fight has already started on fishing

Sellers and buyers at the Grimsby Fish Market, in the north-east of England, on January 27.
Sellers and buyers at the Grimsby Fish Market, in the north-east of England, on January 27. ED ALCOCK / MYOP FOR "THE WORLD"

The UK will "Regain control of British waters", regularly assists Boris Johnson. The Prime Minister even hammers him: at 1st January 2021, at the end of the transition period following the Brexit of January 31, European Union fishermen will no longer have free access to the fish-rich waters surrounding the islands of the United Kingdom, as they have today.

To give more weight to his words, his government presented, on Wednesday, January 29, a bill to the members of Westminster which provides that the country will leave the common fisheries policy and can act as an independent coastal state the year next. A symbol as European parliamentarians ratified the same day the divorce agreement between London and Brussels.

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"The British know that we have a weak point, fishing. There is no reason they should not use this weakness ", entrusts a senior European official, very knowledgeable about Brexit matters. Admittedly, Boris Johnson knows the concerns of British fishermen, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of Brexit, for what to do next. But he also knows that fishing is a politically flammable subject for some of his ex-partners, starting with France. After the "yellow vests", Emmanuel Macron can not afford to back Normandy or Breton fishermen, while 30% to 40% of the hexagonal fishing is done in British waters.

Europeans have more to lose

Only eight of the 27 member states of the European Union – France, Ireland, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Denmark – are concerned by the subject, and London sees a possible flaw in the unity that has so far prevailed between Europeans during the Brexit negotiations.

It’s a fact, when it comes to fishing, Europeans have a lot more to lose than the British. The former fish in the waters of the latter for a value of nearly £ 590 million (just over € 700 million) per year; the British, for their part, catch fish in European waters for just 130 million pounds (154 million euros). "On average, the catch in British waters represents 14% (value) of the eight European countries concerned. This percentage ranges from 1% for Spain to 50% for Belgians ", specifies a document from the Commission, in which one can also read: "This dependence makes fishing one of the only sectors – if not the only one – where Europe is in a weak position compared to the United Kingdom. "


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