Brexit trade talks remain in stalemate as the EU and UK refuse to budge on their respective demands. Government sources said last month that the EU’s approach to trade talks has resulted in “paralysis”. Brexit negotiations have stalled in recent months over two key issues – fisheries and regulatory alignment. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to fulfil a Leave campaign promise that the UK will take back control of its waters post-Brexit.
Previously, EU vessels had free access to British fishing grounds, leaving many fishermen in the UK aggrieved.
However, the EU’s chief negotiator – Michel Barnier – has warned Mr Johnson he cannot secure access to European markets without allowing EU vessels into UK waters.
The UK is also looking to avoid EU regulations – giving the country more freedom to set its own laws on trading standards.
Mr Barnier’s demands have infuriated UK fishermen since the very start of the Brexit process.
In 2017, Scottish fishermen raised concerns that the EU was adopting a hardline stance over quotas as a prelude to Brexit negotiations.
Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, accused the EU of “adopting entrenched views” that could hurt talks
He said: “Looking to the future, international law is abundantly clear that upon exit, control over the UK exclusive economic zone will revert to the UK governments.
“That will allow the UK to decide for our own waters who gets to catch what, where and when.
“But it doesn’t mean we won’t be willing to negotiate access. The difference is that it will be on our terms.
“Taking a hardline stance will not help as we move to the situation where international negotiations with the UK as a coastal state determine outcomes.”
Scotland’s rural economy secretary, Fergus Ewing, admitted at the time that resentment could be felt from Brussels.
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“Not by our local boats, but because we’re being given scraps by Brussels, and we’ve seen the boats from France and Belgium come and take what they can take out of our own waters.”
The huge amount of landing being claimed by boats from other countries has come as a result of the EU’s complex quota systems.
For example, Cornish fishermen have been limited to eight percent of the cod quota in their own waters, while the French can catch 73 percent.
One fisherman told CBC at the time that this made his job “incredibly difficult”.