Published On: Fri, May 1st, 2020

Brexit news: EU demands control over Northern Ireland fishing | UK | News

A memo, seen by, circulated around European Union capitals revealed the extent of the controls being imposed by the bloc’s officials as part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. Under the deal, the European Commission expects the Government to apply a series of provisions that hand vast powers over any fishermen landing a catch in the province to eurocrats in the Belgian capital. The document states: “All landings in Northern Ireland of fish by UK or third country fishing vessels must be subject to the IUU Regulation.”

Brussels uses the measure to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.

It hands the Commission powers to slap “substantial penalties” on any trawlermen it deems to be breaking the rules.

Only catches that meet the criteria are allowed access to the EU’s single market and customs union.

Despite remaining part of the UK’s customs territory, Northern Ireland must apply the bloc’s customs code as part of the divorce deal.

This means fishing boats could be banned from landing in the province if their catches are deemed illegal by Brussels.

Customs tariffs could also be slapped on fish being landed in Northern Ireland by UK boats.

The memo states: “All landings in Northern Ireland of fish by UK or third country fishing vessels must be subject to EU customs rules, where applicable, including EU customs tariffs.

“UK fishing vessels are, for the purpose of the Protocol, considered third country fishing vessels also in Northern Ireland,” according to the Commission document.

In the trade talks, British negotiators have refused to accept the EU’s demands to guarantee continued access for European vessels to the country’s waters.

The technical note was circulated by eurocrats to European capitals after a video conference of the UK-EU Joint Committee.

The special task force is used to hold discussions on the implementations of the EU Withdrawal Agreement, including the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol.

Boris Johnson agreed the new protocol with Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU Commission’s former president, last year as part of his effort to scrap the controversial backstop.

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Brussels has also warned the UK “implementation must be well under way” by July 1 and be ready by the beginning of next year after the Brexit transition period expires.

UK officials have criticised the Commission’s decision to keep the document private during yesterday’s Joint Committee meeting.

A UK Spokesman said: “The European Commission has chosen to publish this technical note to set out its own views on the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“It was not shared at recent meetings with the UK, nor has it been agreed by the UK Government.

“We are committed to complying with our legal obligations under the Protocol, just as we expect the European Union to comply with theirs.

“We will continue to take forward discussions on the implementation of the Protocol in the Joint Committee and Specialised Committee.”

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