IntraFish is bringing you brief, live updates on the events, impacts and fallout from final Brexit talks.
Brexit drives UK lobster supplier closure
Monday Feb. 8. 13:15 GMT
UK lobster exporter Barron Shellfish is closing down its 60-year-old family business blaming Brexit red tape and hidden costs, The Guardian reports.
The company bought lobsters from businesses in Bridlington, exporting up to five tons a week of lobster to countries including Spain, Belgium and Italy.
Tuesday Jan 26. 13:15 GMT
Scottish salmon producers demand joint Brexit task force
Scottish salmon producers are calling for called for the creation of a cross-border government taskforce to resolve the Brexit related-bureacracy problems experienced by seafood businesses this year.
Tavish Scott, the Chief Executive of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), has taken the idea of an expert working group to Westminster and Scottish cabinet ministers.
Estimate of financial losses by the Scottish salmon sector in first week of January from cancelled orders, discounted fish and extra staffing costs of new paperwork ran to £3 million, although have since eased.
While larger salmon producers with bigger budgets are managing to ship single loads to Europe, smaller producers are still having to rely on consolidating their consignments in trucks with other products, which led to severe delays when newly required paperwork has been found to contain the smallest error.
Scottish seafood industry stages London protest
Monday Jan. 18 15:02 GMT
A convoy of trucks from the Scottish shellfish industry has descended on Whitehall, the seat of UK government in London to protest against Brexit-related bureacracy that they say is killing businesses in the sector.
Wednesday Jan. 13 13:39 GMT
Johnson tackled in parliament over seafood exports chaos
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Scottish Nationalist Party SNP leader in Westminster Ian Blackford have clashed in parliament after Blackford highlighted the case of a local fresh shellfish producer and exporter who lost £40,000 (€44,980/$54,574) in a single day because of Brexit red tape and delays.
Blackford said the amount represents income for more than 100 local families in many remote and fragile communities, while Scottish seafood exporters are losing more £1 million (€1.1 million/$1.36 million) in lost sales a day.
"Can the Prime Minister tell my constituent, where is the sea of opportunity that he and his Scottish Tories promised?" Blackford asked.
While Johnson highlighted the £100 million (€112 million/$137 million) the UK government is providing to support the fishing industry Blackford responded by saying the EU has put in place a €5 billion ($6 billion) fund to support the cost of Brexit with a fifth of that total going to Ireland.
Wednesday Jan. 13 12:40 GMT
Seafood firms caught up Northern Ireland border chaos
The seafood industry is facing delays and increased costs as new customs rules wreak havoc on trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, The Grocer reports.
Rules requiring British businesses to notify customs officials before moving goods across the Irish Sea has caught out firms depending on fresh-caught seafood being able to move unhindered between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Scampi tail producer Whitby Seafoods is warning that border delays are already hurting the company, the report said.
Tuesday Jan. 12 19:16 GMT
Fish prices down as much as 80 percent
Fish prices for some species were down as much as 80 percent on Monday in the Scottish port of Peterhead amid Brexit related disruption, according to James Withers CEO of Scotland Food & Drink.
To avoid bureacracy some vessels are landing fish in Denmark while around a third of Scottish vessels are tied up in harbor.
Monday, Jan. 11 13:12 GMT
'A motorway car crash'
Mountains of extra paperwork required for each species have caused a "motorway car crash" for seafood exporters, Scottish Seafood Association Chief Executive Jimmy Buchan told the Press and Journal.
Businesses have lost out on hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of sales as a result, after trawlers had to remain in port and stock was left in lorries during bureaucratic hold-ups, the report said.
Wednesday, Dec. 30 2:59 GMT
MPs officially back post-Brexit trade deal
UK members of parliament (MPs) have officially backed the government's post-Brexit trade deal with the EU by 521 votes to 73 - a majority of 448.
Parliament was recalled to put the agreement into UK law, one day before the UK stops following EU rules. The EU (Future Relationship) Bill will now pass to the House of Lords for their approval.
Once both Houses have agreed to the bill, the Queen will be asked to give her consent, in a process known as Royal Assent.
EU bosses officially signed the agreement in Brussels earlier - it has been flown to London by the RAF for Boris Johnson to sign.
Wednesday, Dec. 30 2:19 GMT
'No business should be worse off from Brexit'
The fact that a deal has been done will ensure stability and certainty for businesses, said Jimmy Buchan, chief executive of the Scottish Seafood Association, but there will now be a significant cost burden to those exporting seafood into the EU.
"It is not perfect, by any means, but for exporters there is now clarity on the state of the market, with tariff-free trade continuing and an offer of financial support for the sector which will absolutely critical for us to improve our position globally," he said.
However, due to new export-related documentation and certification requirements, each consignment of seafood, regardless of size or value, "will cost hundreds of pounds more to deliver" to customers in the EU.
"Our members who are exporting seafood into the EU will be financially worse off due to these new costs from Jan. 1," said Buchan.
“This additional burden, which in some cases amounts to hundreds of thousands of pounds annually, severely blunts our competitiveness when many small and medium sized businesses are already struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He appealed to the government to consider subsidising the cost on the basis that “no business should be worse off from Brexit”.
Buchan also called on the government to bring forward in short order a replacement for the EMFF funding scheme in addition to the £100 million already promised to support the seafood sector and take advantage of the increase in some fish and shellfish stocks.
"A new and powerful scheme is required to stimulate the capital investment that the processing sector in Scotland requires to secure its place in new markets across the world," he said.
"We are now a direct competitor with Norway and Iceland, and if we are to succeed in the global marketplace we need a transformation in the levels of ambition and financial support from our governments to match, if not better, what happens in those countries.”
Wednesday, Dec. 30 1:34 GMT
Brexit deal 'significantly worse' than promised
James Anderson, chairman of Shetland Fishermen’s Association (SFA), said the fisheries deal between the UK and EU was disappointing, and "significantly worse than what was pushed for, and promised to us," by the Government.
“It was agreed on Christmas Eve, denying us the opportunity to examine the detail and highlight the obvious problems with it," he said.
“By signing up to a deal where increases in quota shares for some stocks fall short of what we would normally have obtained through quota swapping mechanisms, the Government has taken away the shine from the headline gains."
Nevertheless, Anderson said "it’s onward and upward now" and the SFA will work hard to hold the Prime Minister to account on what he says the deal will deliver, especially after the initial five-and-a-half year transition.
"The last few years have been incredibly focused on Brexit for us and we will continue now to make sure we get everything we can out of this deal," he said.
Wednesday, Dec. 30 10:23 GMT
Brexit deal falls ‘very far short of commitments and promises’
Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said the Brexit deal falls "very far short of the commitments and promises" that were made to the fishing industry.
“It does not restore sovereign UK control over fisheries, and does not permit us to determine who can catch what, where and when in our own waters," she said.
From Jan. 1 2021, the EU fleet has full access to the UK EEZ for what is essentially six years, as fisheries are managed on an annual basis.
"Yes, the UK fleet has reciprocal access to EU waters, but they are far more reliant on our waters than we are on theirs – EU vessels fish six times more in UK waters than we fish in theirs," said Macdonald.
“The adjustments to UK shares of fish are modest at best, and in some cases will leave us with some very real practical fisheries management problems."
Macdonald said a "fundamental error" was made by the government not securing sufficient quota uplift in some key stocks to take account of international swaps, which will no longer be possible in the same way.
"Anyone involved in fisheries would know this gap had to be bridged for vessels in the whitefish fleet. We expect government to come forward with solutions to the problem they have created."
The UK is not receiving a 25% uplift in quotas, but instead will gain 25% of the value of what was the EU’s share in 2019. This does not equate to a 25% uplift in quota.
"And significantly, by the end of the adjustment period this will fall very far short of the government’s stated aim of achieving zonal attachment," said Macdonald..
"Although we are glad to be out of the CFP, our battle to secure better arrangements for our fishermen is far from over. We are now a coastal state with one hand tied behind our back and the industry’s task in the months and years ahead is to right the wrongs of this deal."
Monday, Dec. 28 12:17 GMT
'Catastrophically' high price for Denmark
The price of the Brexit deal is “catastrophically high” for Danish fishermen as the agreement means that from Jan. 1, they will release a quarter of the fishing quotas they had previously caught in British waters.
“The Brexit agreement will cost Danish fishing dearly,” said Svend Erik-Andersen, chairman of the Danish Fisheries Association.
Danish fishermen usually catch up to 40% of their catches and 30% of their turnover in British waters. From New Year, Danish fishermen will have to submit fishing quotas to the United Kingdom to a value of around DKK 1.5 billion (€201.7 million/$246 million) to maintain access to British waters.
"This is very serious. We expect fishermen to lose their livelihoods, and it will be a hard blow against Denmark,” said Svend Erik-Andersen.
Monday, Dec. 28 11:29 GMT
A dark day for the European fishing industry
European Fishermen will pay a high price for the Brexit agreement, said the European Fisheries Alliance (EUFA) in statement.
The sector is now facing the prospect of loss of large parts of fishing rights that has been built up over many generations of fishermen and this will have grave consequences for the fishing industry, the fishermen, their families and communities.
Meanwhile the deal does not provide any long term certainty for the fleets, as the entire agreement might be back in play in a mere five years from now, said EUFA.
This will stifle investment in the sector and coastal communities and completely leaves open the questions of long-term collaborative sustainable management of fish stocks.
"Details of the deal notwithstanding, it is clear from what we know that this is a dark day for the European fishing industry," said Gerard van Balsfoort, chairman of EUFA. "
The loss of a significant part of our fishing rights, built up over many generations of fishermen, is a huge blow that leaves thousands of livelihoods hanging in the balance. On top of this, the extremely short transition period leaves us facing further uncertainty and hardship in the very near future."
Monday, Dec. 28 10:12 GMT
Seafish: Brexit deal 'welcome relief' for seafood trade
The UK Government has reached an agreement on our future trading relationship with the EU when the transition period comes to an end on Dec. 31
"The EU is our closest trading partner - 75% of our seafood exports went to the EU last year - so agreeing a trade deal is important for the future of our seafood sector in the UK," said Aoife Martin, director of operations at Seafish.
"Over the last four years, we have supported the seafood industry to prepare for a no deal outcome. This was likely to make trade difficult and costly so we’re glad to see a deal that should make trade flow easier."
However, this agreement is unlikely to remove the need for customs formalities so seafood businesses should continue to prepare for increased paperwork and checks, it said.
There will be a considerable easing of tariff requirements for seafood imported from and exported to the EU. There will be zero tariffs for the UK but businesses will need to meet rules of origin requirements. In addition, food safety checks will remain the same as expected under no deal preparations so businesses should still prepare for changes to the veterinary checks required to trade with the EU.
Monday, Dec. 28 8:53 GMT
SSPO: 'The omens are not good'
The Brexit deal with the EU, reached on Christmas Eve, will inevitably mean increased costs and potential disruption to transport for the UK’s number one export industry, according to the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO).
Although welcoming the deal, which will alleviate some of the serious problems that would come from a ‘no deal’ Brexit, the SSPO still has "concerns", said Tavish Scott, CEO of the SSPO.
Following a week of transport chaos with millions of pounds of losses caused by border disruption between the UK and continental Europe, Scott said "the omens are not good."
Monday, Dec. 28 8:42 GMT
UK fishing industry cries ‘betrayal’ over Brexit deal
Change in UK quota shares lambasted as ‘miniscule, marginal, paltry, pathetic’ by NFFO.
The United Kingdom's National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations (NFFO) has slammed the post Brexit trade deal reached on Christmas Eve, as a "betrayal" and accused the UK government of ‘caving in’ on securing a good deal for fishermen.
Thursday, Dec. 24 19:01 GMT
Scottish Fishermen: Brexit deal 'hugely disappointing'
Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said that while the full details of the fisheries agreement reached between the United Kingdom and the European Union had yet to emerge, on the surface it did not appear to deliver on the industry’s aspirations.
“What has been outlined so far is that full access will be granted to EU vessels for effectively six years from January,” she said.
“Over the same timescale the increase in quota shares for UK vessels will be 25 percent.
“The Government has not yet provided the full text of the agreement or how this increase will apply to particular species, so it is very difficult to make a detailed assessment of the impact on our industry," she said.
Control over access, quota shares based on zonal attachment, annual negotiations do not appear to be central to the agreement, she added.
“After all the promises given to the industry, that is hugely disappointing," she said. "We expect to be able to study the detail in the coming days and will issue a further statement when we have been able to do so.”
Thursday, Dec. 24 16:45 GMT
Irish fishermen slam Brexit deal
Not all of the seafood industry is happy with the agreement.
Ireland's Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) said the Brexit deal "demonstrated the duplicitous nature of these protracted negotiations."
In particular, the organization cited dismay over fishing quota agreements.
“We won’t accept this," said KFO Chief Executive Seán O’Donoghue. "Moreover, we fully expect the Irish Government to deliver the requisite compensation in the form of transfer of mackerel quota from the other EU coastal states which pro rata, have seen a much less severe impact on their respective mackerel fisheries."
Thursday, Dec. 24, 14:58 GMT
UK and EU finally reach Brexit deal after fisheries accord
Negotiators have sealed a deal a deal on fisheries, a major stumbling block to a post-Brexit trade deal in the home stretch of nine months of hard bargaining between the UK and European Union.
Details of the post Brexit trade deal between the EU and UK are expected to emerge over the coming days.
"We have finally found agreement. It was a long and winding road," EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters.
Wednesday, Dec. 23, 15:50 GMT
EU countries prepare for possible imminent Brexit deal
EU states are readying themselves for the possibility of a Brexit deal being struck within the next few hours, by pencilling in a Christmas Eve meeting to start the ratification process, reports The Guardian.
Ambassadors in Brussels have been told to be available to meet on Thursday if the negotiations come to fruition. Diplomats representing the EU member states are already combing through some of the the 2,000 pages of legal text that have been agreed.
The EU has said it is willing to lose 25 percent by value of the fish its fleets catch in UK waters. The UK has proposed the repatriation of 35 percent – a potential difference of €63.8 million (£58.1m). However, Barnier said the British offer did not include pelagic fish such as herring and mackerel, meaning the loss of annual income would be closer to €230m a year.
The UK’s Office for Budget Responsibility warned last month that failing to secure a trade and security deal after nine months of talks would cost 300,000 jobs next year and cut 2 percent off GDP, equivalent to £40 billion a year.
Wednesday, Dec. 23, 12:26 GMT
Fishing will now have to be resolved by Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen directly
Christmas is emerging as the final deadline to avoid a no-deal Brexit, amid warnings from Brussels that a deal needs to be signed before the holiday to be in place by the end of the transition, reports The Independent.
Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, privately told MEPs on Tuesday night that he had done all he could to break the deadlock on fishing – the last big issue remaining.
An official present at the meeting with the European Parliament's UK coordination group said the chief negotiator had warned that fishing now had to be resolved directly by Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen.
The pair of leaders are understood to have been talking directly over the phone since the start of the week in a move which one EU source described as "part and parcel" of negotiations.
Negotiating teams met for further talks in the European Commission's Brussels Berlaymont headquarters on Wednesday morning to iron out the last details on the so-called "level playing field" issue, where there has now been significant progress.
Tuesday, Dec. 22, 21:20 GMT
France on Tuesday announced a limited re-opening, starting on Wednesday, for traffic coming via ferry, train and tunnel, but only for EU citizens and Britons living in the European Union— and only if they provide a negative coronavirus test from the previous 72 hours, reports The Washington Post.
In response to the lockdown in the United Kingdom -- brought about by the discovery of a new variant of the COVID-19 virus and a spike in cases -- France earlier this week banned freight and travel from the United Kingdom, creating chaos for Scottish seafood making its way into the region for the holidays.
Tuesday, Dec. 22, 17:07 GMT
'Final push' for deal as EU rebuffs UK’s latest concession on fish
In a sign of some potential movement, the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier is updating the 27 member states' ambassadors on Tuesday afternoon.
Ahead of the meeting he told reporters the talks were "really in a crucial moment" and the bloc was giving a "final push" to try and reach a deal.
The news follows reports that the European Union rebuffed the UK’s latest concessions on fishing rights, dealing a setback to efforts to secure a post-Brexit trade deal.
The UK put forward a proposal that would see value of the fish EU boats catch in British waters shrink by 30%, a substantially smaller drop than the 60% it was demanding last week.
The bloc, however, refused to accept a reduction of more than 25%, saying even that was hard for countries like France and Denmark to accept, according to officials with knowledge of the discussions, reports Bloomberg.
Tuesday, Dec. 22, 13:14 GMT
Scottish Fishermen's Federation slams talks of fishing offer to EU
Reports that the UK is willing to allow the EU reduce the value of the fish it catches in UK waters by only a third, or 35 percent, in hope of ending the deadlock in trade talks, have been branded "utterly derisory and totally unacceptable," by Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation.
"If any of these 'offers' are accurate, then in terms of percentages and length of transition period, they are utterly derisory and totally unacceptable to the Scottish fishing fleet," said Macdonald.
"Repatriating only 35 percent of the EU’s landings to the UK phased in over a period of several years would be a terrible deal for the fishing industry."
"And you cannot have sovereign control over your fishing waters with one hand tied behind your back. The UK would be a coastal state in name only. This is not what we were promised, and only last week the Prime Minister made the same point at PMQs.
"If this is indeed what is on the table, then the Prime Minister and his Government will have completely betrayed the promises they have made repeatedly, in public and in private, to our industry."
Tuesday, Dec. 22, 09:21 GMT
UK makes eleventh-hour offer on fish
The European Union is considering a fresh proposal on fishing rights from the UK as Prime Minister Boris Johnson aims to secure an eleventh-hour trade deal, reports Bloomberg.
Both parties had signalled over the weekend that they could make no further compromises, but on Monday the UK offered to give further ground if the EU backed down in other areas, according to people familiar with the negotiations.
The latest suggestion from Britain would see the EU reduce the value of the fish it catches in UK waters by about a third, or 35%. Last week the UK was insisting the EU accept a 60% cut.
The EU told negotiators on Friday that a 25% reduction was its final offer and this was already difficult for countries including France and Denmark to accept -- the bloc had initially suggested 18%.
Monday, Dec. 21, 13:15 GMT
France sticking to 'red lines' as Brexit talks continue
France is sticking to its “red lines”, such as the right to fish in British waters, as Brexit talks continue between the United Kingdom and the European Union, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Monday -- Reuters.
Monday, Dec. 21, 13:07 GMT
Pressure to extend Brexit transition period amid border, virus chaos
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to extend the Brexit transition period amid ongoing COVID-19 and border chaos, reports The Independent.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon is among those calling for an extension to the Brexit transition period following disruption caused by the discovery of a faster-spreading coronavirus strain.
The European Parliament previously said that talks needed to be completed on Sunday in order to ratify a deal by 31 December.
Monday, Dec. 21, 09:47 GMT
Throwing EU fisheries 'under the bus'
The European Fisheries Alliance (EUFA) has implored the European Commission to honour the commitment made to the fishing sector in the mandate given to EU Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier.
The shape of a deal, as currently stands would give a "huge blow" to the European seafood sector which is made up more than 18,000 fishermen and 3,500 vessels with an annual turnover €20.7 billion, said EUFA chairman, Gerard van Balsfoort.
"Our industry is literally and metaphorically on the brink and in spite of repeated promises made, we are in the throes of being sold down the river with the offer made to the United Kingdom by the European Commission."
“The one thing we wanted to avoid was a ‘no-deal’ situation in the interests of all our fishermen but the deal which is now being proposed is every bit as bad. We are looking at vicious and unprecedented cuts on a wide range of stocks including our pelagic, shellfish and whitefish sectors."
If the European Commission doesn’t stand up for its fishermen and honour its written agreement made during the arduous Brexit negotiations, it could spell the death knell for large parts of an industry which has contributed so much to coastal communities across nine EU states, he said.
"While our industry has faced down many serious challenges down through the years and has proven itself to be resilient, versatile and determined, this is a desperate slap in the face and potentially the single-biggest and most catastrophic setback of our time."
Monday, Dec. 21, 09:00 GMT
Another day, another deadline - talks to continue as fishing becomes main sticking point
Negotiators of a Brexit trade deal inched towards a compromise on fishing rights on Sunday but missed a major deadline, raising the prospect of weeks without arrangements from Jan. 1 even in the event of agreement, reports The Guardian.
The teams led by the chief UK negotiator, David Frost, and his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, are expected to continue talks on Monday despite the European parliament’s notice that it would not vote on a deal if not secured by midnight on Sunday.
A UK government source said: “Teams have been negotiating throughout the day and expect to continue tomorrow. Talks remain difficult and significant differences remain. We continue to explore every route to a deal that is in line with the fundamental principles we brought into the negotiations.”
Friday, Dec. 18, 18:21 GMT
The 'moment of truth' - what's the state of play heading into Christmas week?
Here, Bloomberg offers a handy, succinct, explainer of the situation as it stands heading into the weekend.
Friday, Dec. 18, 11:35 GMT
No deal is ‘very likely’ as EU gives UK fishing ultimatum
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he will have to accept limits on access to the single market in return for greater control of fishing -- or face no deal, reports Bloomberg.
It comes after the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, issued a statement on Thursday night describing the talks as “blocked,” but Barnier said a deal could be struck if both sides make “a real effort.”
However, in a speech to the European Parliament on Friday, Barnier gave a stark assessment of the ultimatum the EU is giving to the British: access to the EU’s single market will be conditional on keeping British fishing waters open to boats from the bloc.
That puts him on collision course with Johnson, who said on Thursday the negotiations will fail unless the EU softens what he called its “not reasonable” stance on fish.
The two sides are battling it out over how long a transition period will apply before any new fishing rules and quotas take effect.
The UK has pushed for three years; the EU wants longer. They are also still arguing over precise quota numbers and how often they should be renegotiated.
On Thursday, the European Parliament added to the pressure by setting officials a Sunday deadline to reach a deal for it to be ratified in time for the end of the transition period on Dec. 31, reported The Guardian.
But in London, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told a House of Lords committee that the negotiations could even continue after Christmas.
Friday, Dec. 18, 07:41 GMT
Grimsby seafood industry 'ready as it can be' as chaos at UK ports, borders threatens supply
Cold stores in the key processing hub of Grimsby are currently full as companies try to get ahead of any disruptions.
Thursday, Dec. 17, 12:33 GMT
Call for post-Brexit grace period to stop food exports going to waste
Tons of food bound for Europe from Britain could be left to rot in lorries, be turned back at borders or not transported at all due to delays caused by new UK-EU export red tape, the House of Lords EU Environment Sub-Committee is warning.
It is therefore calling on ministers to give food, farming and haulage businesses two to six months to adjust to the new export regime which starts on Jan.1 2021, after hearing concerns about the post-Brexit system from industry bodies.
"Given that the Government’s negotiations have left industry with just two weeks to prepare, this grace period seems like a proportionate request," said Lord Teverson, chair of the EU Environment Sub-Committee.
“The main message from businesses is that the Government isn’t ready for Jan. 1, which means that they can’t be ready either. They don’t know what rules will apply and say that Government guidance is sometimes contradictory."
Without clear, coordinated information it is impossible for businesses to adjust their practices, which will mean that from Jan. 1 their produce may not be picked up by hauliers in the first place, might be turned around at the border, or in the worst case could spoil in vans because of the border delays arising, he said.
The committee has also asked for clarity on what tariffs would apply to British food and agriculture exports if the Government does not agree a trade deal with the EU.
Thursday, Dec. 17, 10:02 GMT
Seafish runs Brexit helpline over holiday season
Seafish, the United Kingdom's seafood public body, is launching a helpline over the holiday season supporting seafood businesses with last minute Brexit queries.
The service will be operational between Dec. 21 and Jan 4. via an online system. The helpline is meant to complement the advice available on Seafish's Brexit transition hub on its website.
Wednesday Dec. 16, 11:52 GMT
Brexit border chaos: Fresh salmon at risk as EU trucks threaten to ditch deliveries to UK
Europe’s largest truck owner warned it could turn away deliveries to the UK if Brexit triggers chaos at the border, a move that could threaten supermarkets’ supplies of fresh produce, reports Bloomberg.
With a little more than two weeks until the UK leaves the European Union’s single market, Kristian Kaas Mortensen, an executive at Girteka Logistics, said he expects queues at the border that could stretch as far as 50 kilometers.
Hold-ups could force his firm, which owns 7,500 trucks, as well as its rivals to limit bookings to the UK, he said in an interview.
The UK has told businesses to brace for disruption at the border next month regardless of whether it signs a trade deal with the EU. In its worst-case scenario, it expects a queue of 7,000 trucks at the port of Dover.
The government blames companies for not doing enough to prepare for the new customs checks and paperwork that will be needed after Dec. 31.
Of particular concern is the raft of food and produce the UK imports, Mortensen said.
Delays could see everything from bananas to salmon passing their use-by dates aboard trucks and being unusable by the time they reach their destinations.
Trucks heading towards the English port of Dover were already forming miles-long tailbacks last week, reported Reuters.
Logistics groups reported surging demand from companies trying to bring parts, goods and food into the country before Britain leaves the EU’s single market and customs union, a move that is expected to cause even more disruption in January.
Wednesday Dec. 16, 11:23 GMT
'Still an ocean apart' on fishing rights
Agreeing fishing rights is the main sticking point now in EU-UK trade talks, an official in the bloc’s hub Brussels said on Wednesday, reports Reuters.
They spoke after EU chief executive said EU and UK negotiators agreed on the so-called non-regression clause, advancing on one of the most contentious issues in the negotiations related to safeguarding economic fair play.
“The main problem is fish,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “Still an ocean apart.”
Earlier on Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said there was now a path to an agreement. "The path may be very narrow but it is there," she said.
“We have found a way forward on most issues but two issues still remain outstanding: the level playing field and fisheries."
Von der Leyen said discussions about access to UK fishing waters for EU vessels were “still very difficult” but negotiators had moved forward on the other most contentious element - guarantees of fair competition for companies.
Asked to comment on von der Leyen’s remarks, a British official said: “We’ve made some progress, but we are still very far apart in key areas. Still not there.”
Wednesday Dec. 16, 2:08 GMT
UK drops push for re-nationalising of fishing vessels
Downing Street has watered down a key demand over post-Brexit fishing rights as part of a broader compromise, EU sources said as Germany’s ambassador in Brussels said there was a chance of a deal by the weekend, reports The Guardian.
The UK dropped a push for fishing vessels operating under the UK flag to be majority British-owned in the future, it was claimed.
It is understood the ownership rules are likely to be different for vessels now under the UK flag and those that operate under British colors in the future.
Tuesday Dec. 15, 12.39 GMT
Mixed messages not helping
Britain and the EU are thought to have the “architecture” in place for a deal on one of the stickiest points of the Brexit negotiations, according to Ursula von der Leyen. The EU Commission president suggested that there had been “movement” on the level playing field and negotiators were now working on the “details”, reports The Independent.
Downing Street did not appear to share the same optimism, though, saying negotiations remained “difficult” and that the teams had not made “significant progress."
Number 10 also said it was “simply not true” that the government had “backtracked” on fishing demands.
It is believed that the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, signalled to EU ambassadors yesterday that the UK was now willing to make fresh concessions on the “fisheries” issue.
“There is simply no truth in the idea that we have backtracked,” The Times reported a Downing Street source as having said.
“The inaccurate briefings from the EU side in recent days have made a difficult discussion even more challenging in the short period of time we have left.”
Tuesday Dec. 15, 11.00 GMT
SSPO urges Boris Johnson to seal Brexit deal
The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) says the Prime Minister needs to decide whether he is on the side of business or politics, and seal a trade deal with the EU to prevent major disruption to sales of farmed salmon.
Scottish farmed salmon was the UK’s largest food export in 2019, worth a record £618 million.
Tavish Scott, CEO of the SSPO told the Financial Times that even with a deal fish farmers faced greater difficulties because of increased bureaucracy in getting shipments to the EU, which accounted for more than 64 percent of the UK’s £250 million ($336 million/€276 million) salmon exports in the year to October.
"Boris Johnson needs to get his act together . . . He’s got to decide what side he is on: is he on the side of business or is he on the side of politics?" said Scott. "A deal is really important because the alternative is disruption to trade lasting, I think, not just weeks, but potentially a long, long time."
Without a trade deal, exports of chilled whole salmon would be subject to EU tariffs of 2 percent and those of smoked salmon to 13 percent. But Scott said a bigger worry was the potential for delays in getting fish across the Channel to EU customers.
Monday Dec. 14, 18.00 GMT
Seafish rolls out guidance as UK seafood sector sweats
UK seafood trade group Seafish gave the industry an update on the latest EU customs guidance on Wednesday in a webinar broadcast. You can view it below:
Monday Dec. 14, 17.19 GMT
Quota discussions 'nigh on impossible' amid Brexit uncertainty
The annual meeting of the Council of Fisheries Ministers begins in Brussels on Tuesday, Dec. 15, with negotiations to set Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas for the year ahead, taking place over two days.
However, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) is warning that an industry already in a state of heightened anxiety regarding Brexit is now in a nigh impossible situation to chart its course for 2021, when the future impact of Brexit on the sector remains unknown.
"While we remain hopeful that a deal will be reached, we believe that setting three-month quotas based on last year, for the first quarter of next year, will cause a major problem," said Sean O’Donoghue, CEO of the KFO.
Seasonal fisheries such as mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting are predominantly worked in the first quarter of the year so instructing fishermen that they can only catch 60 percent of their allocations during ‘peak season’, is neither credible nor realistic, he said.
There are a myriad of additional issues too, including the ‘Hague Preferences’, as well as others around shared stocks -- of which there are 119 out of 146 divided with the UK -- which will require bilateral and also trilateral agreements in place. None of these negotiations have happened due the protracted Brexit backdrop.
Monday Dec. 14, 17.08 GMT
France’s Europe minister: Talks should conclude this week
Clement Beaune, France’s Europe minister, said “it will be difficult” for Brexit talks “to go beyond the end of the week," reports The Independent.
"Not just because of ratification, but because we need two weeks to organise," he said. "Companies are getting anxious. We cannot get to 5pm on 31 December without companies knowing what will happen the next day."
He added that no country outside the single market has “a zero-tariff, zero trade agreement with the EU. This is a very generous offer, so we are entitled to ask for commitments in return.”
Monday Dec. 14, 17.04 GMT
France acting like it has ‘God-given right’ to UK waters, claims Tory peer
French president Emmanuel Macron must stop "acting as if France has a God-given right of access to the British fish in British waters," Lord Greville Howard has told the House of Lords.
The Tory peer claimed that the EU must stop treating the UK like a “colony” in ongoing trade negotiations and understand that the country is “a free and sovereign state”.
The legal status of fishing rights remains murky, with quotas having been sold off in the 1990s and the market having suffered from a lack of strong regulation since.
“Any foreign fishing companies that purchased UK quota in good faith would be very likely to sue if this was now taken away from them,” Dr Emma Cardwell from Nottingham Trent University told the BBC last week.
Monday Dec. 14, 15.10 GMT
A lot rests on fisheries
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said "we can close negotiations in the next few days if there is a compromise on fisheries," reports The Times.
This comes after Britain hardened its demands for frequent or annual negotiations for catch quotas.
"The EU will maintain the linkage between fish and access to the single market. Should access to fishing grounds be phased out significantly over time, so may access to relevant bits of the agreement on trade," a diplomat said.
Monday Dec. 14, 14.57 GMT
Boris Johnson 'balks' at demand for trade tariffs to be linked to fishing
Boris Johnson is resisting demands for the EU to be able to hit Britain with trade tariffs if access to fishing is cut, Michel Barnier told ambassadors on Monday according to reports in The Times.
In a briefing this morning the EU’s chief negotiator hailed progress on “level playing field” competition rules and enforcement, with talks focused on the practical detail on how such mechanisms can be implemented.
The main sticking point is on EU demands for fishing to be linked to trade if European quotas are cut over time, or allowing tariffs to be imposed on industrial goods in the event of a fisheries dispute.
"The UK has come closer on the level playing field; now we need to build the architecture," he told ambassadors. "The UK is rejecting the trade link to fishing and has asked for the EU to move more on this as a trade-off for British movement on the level playing field."
Monday Dec. 14, 14.01 GMT
A post-Brexit trade and security deal could be sealed as early as this week after Boris Johnson made a key concession over the weekend, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has told ambassadors and MEPs in Brussels.
According to reports in The Guardian, Barnier said the prime minister’s acceptance of the need for a treaty-level mechanism to ensure fair competition as regulatory standards diverge over time had unlocked the talks despite difficult issues remaining.
Sunday Dec. 13, 12.08 GMT
Trade deal talks extended
Talks aimed at securing a trade deal between the EU and UK have been extended without setting any further deadline, following a call between EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
"Despite the fact deadlines have been missed over and over we both think that it is responsible at this point to go the extra mile," von der Leyen told reporters.
Saturday Dec. 12, 14.21 GMT
UK warships on standby
Four Royal Navy patrol vessels are being put on standby to patrol British waters as the UK government steps up preparations for Britain leaving EU without a trade deal, The Financial Times reports.
The development aimed at detering European fishing boats from entering British territorial after Dec. 31 has attracted derision in some quarters.
Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the Commons Defence Committee, told BBC Radio that the Navy deployment risked distracting from ongoing talks and were "absolutely irresponsible".
"This isn't Elizabethan times anymore, this is global Britain - we need to be raising the bar much higher than this," he said.
Friday Dec. 11, 17.57 GMT
'Each minute lost is an hour lost' as Calais traffic jams build
As traffic jams build up at the port of Calais amid high Christmas demand combined with COVID-19 and Brexit stockpiling, "a truck costs one euro a minute so each lost minute standing still is an hour lost," David Sagnard CEO at Transport Carpentier told France 3 TV.
With the UK set to leave the EU on Jan. 1 UK firms are taking advantage as much as possible of the advantages of single market membership, the report said.
Friday Dec. 11, 17.18 GMT
Johnson: No deal is very, very likely
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Sky News TV that a no deal outcome in final trade talks with the EU is now very, very likely.
This comes with both sides now saying that a no deal outcome is more likely than not before Sunday night's deadline.
Friday Dec. 11, 16.36 GM
Johnson call snubbed by Merkel and Macron
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been thwarted in an attempt to circumvent the European Commission by requesting a three-way call with German Chancellor Andrew Merkel and Emmanuel Macron as he tries to try to resolve the resolve the impasse in final Brexit talks, The Independent reports.
This comes with both sides now saying that a no deal outcome is more likely than not before Sunday night's deadline.
Friday Dec. 11, 13.38 GMT
UK warned against operating on WTO terms
As Boris Johnson continues to refer to no deal as an Australian-type deal former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull says his country’s trade deal with the EU is ‘not one Britain would want, frankly.’
Australia does not have a comprehensive trade deal with the EU but instead mostly trades on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.
Friday Dec. 11, 10.45 GMT
EU: No deal is now likeliest
European Commisssion President Ursula von der Leyen has said that there is a higher probability for no-deal than a deal following late night talks between European leaders in Brussels, The Guardian reports.
The EU and UK have set a final deadline at the end of Sunday to reach agreement on the outstanding issues of fisheries, level playing field and governance of a deal.
Thursday Dec. 10, 20.04 GMT
Boris Johnson: Strong possibility of no deal
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that there is now a strong possibility of no deal being reached in trade talks between his country and the European Union.
Just 21 days before the UK transitions out of the EU, Johnson, who continues to refer to no deal as an "Australia-style deal" said businesses should make "proper" preparations for this to happen.
Australia does not have a comprehensive trade deal with the EU but instead mostly trades on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms.
Thursday Dec. 10, 14.21 GMT
Ireland demands pelagic fish are part of trade deal
A UK proposal to strip pelagic fish stocks such as mackerel out of talks on a trade deal with the EU could undermine the viability of Irish fishing, The Irish Times reports citing industry representatives.
Negotiating EU access to pelagic stocks in British waters annually under ongoing talks would only give Irish and EU fleets a year long short-term before putting them “at the mercy” of the UK in future bilateral talks while losing the leverage of linking a deal on fishing to other trade and economic areas, Sean O’Donoghue, chief executive of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, said according to the publication.
Thursday Dec. 10, 17.20 GMT
'UK cannot accept a deal at any cost'
Scottish Conservative MP David Duguid, who represents the Buchan and Banff constituency, tweeted this clip of British Conservative Party Member of Parliament and Paymaster General Penny Mordaunt who ruled out "a deal at any cost."
Thursday Dec. 10, 12.39 GMT
Level of UK Brexit preparedness 'shambolic to catastrophic'
Mountains of red tape facing road hauliers are combined with the UK government failing to fix IT problems related to new customs arrangements, while doubts over the construction of truck parks and customs borders point all point to a "shambolic" situation on Jan 1, as the UK transitions out of the EU Rod Mckenzie, Managing Director of Policy & Public Affairs at The Road Haulage Association told Sky News.
"We simply need thousands of customs agents to process all the paperwork deal or no deal to process all the paperwork," Mckenzie said.
"Deal or no deal there is not much difference I suppose it's the difference between shambolic and catastrophic."
Thursday Dec. 10, 12.30 GMT
EU offers extension of trucking access to single market
The EU Commission has announced that UK operators can undertake international haulage between the UK and the EU until 30 June at least without the need for ECMT permits, provided the UK offers reciprocal terms.
Thursday Dec. 10, 12.25 GMT
Scottish fishermen dismiss EU proposal
The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) has rejected an EU proposal to maintain current fisheries arrangements for a year or until such time there is a new agreement.
“Were the UK to accede to this in its first act as an independent coastal state, it would be a travesty," SFF Chief Executive Elspeth Macdonald said.
Thursday Dec. 10, 12.17 GMT
EU proposes extension to fisheries arrangements
The EU is proposing to maintain current fisheries arrangements for a year or until such time there is a new agreement in the event no final agreement is reached on a free trade agreement with the UK on Sunday, Sky News TV reports.
Thursday Dec. 10, 12.10 GMT
'No deal will trigger new talks'
Whatever the outcome of final Brexit deal talks this week there will still be a need for an agreement on fisheries, whether a 12 month standalone deal or as part of a wider trade agreement, Barry Deas, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organizations told Sky News TV.
"No deal if it were to transpire on Sunday would trigger further talks, but in any event the issues of access and quota shares would still be there to resolve," Deas said.
Thursday Dec. 10, 8.51 GMT
Fish on Brussels Menu
Fish was on the menu for Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen at their dinner in Brussels Wednesday, reports The Guardian.
As part of their starter the two leaders dined on one of the most contentious subjects of the negotiations: scallops.
The main course was also seafood. This time it was turbot, also found in UK waters, served steamed with mashed potatoes and vegetables.
Turbot is one of the demersal fish that the UK is happy to include in a deal, unlike mackerel, which the UK has suggested should be removed from talks, wrote The Guardian.
Wednesday Dec. 9, 23:15 GMT
Sunday is 'final' deadline for a deal
A final deadline for a trade deal between the EU and the UK has been set for the end of Sunday after talks over dinner in Brussels described as "frank, lively and interesting" between EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
"Very large gaps" remain between the sides over the remaining issues of fisheries, level playing field and governance of any deal Sky News TV reports.
Leaders dined on turbot, a fish not disputed in talks, accompanied by pumpkin mousse and scallops, which have been the subject of wrangling.
Wednesday Dec. 9, 14:25 GMT
Norway inks interim trade agreement with UK, Iceland; deal means no new tariffs on seafood products
Norway's Ministry of Trade and Industry inked an interim trade continuity agreement with the United Kingdom and Iceland on Tuesday, effective Jan. 1, until a comprehensive free trade agreement is in place.
Wednesday Dec. 9, 14:14 GMT
Fisheries could derail difficult Brexit negotiations
Despite being lightweight in economic terms, fisheries are sensitive because they affect maritime territorial sovereignty and a sector in difficulty. "Everyone has an interest in an agreement," Le Monde columnist Philippe Escande writes.
"This sector represents 0.1 percent of the gross domestic product of the United Kingdom and Europe, but at least 50 percent of the migraines (headaches) of Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator," Escande said.
Wednesday Dec. 9, 12:24 GMT
Northern Ireland stores exempt from New Year Brexit checks
Supermarkets will be permitted to continue to supply stores in Northern without special Brexit checks that will kick in, deal or no deal, on Jan. 1.
Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Asda and other trusted traders in the food sector will be given a waiver potentially for a number of months before checks apply, The Guardian reports.
Future regulatory standards in the UK remain the biggest stumbling block to a deal the same publication reports citing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Tuesday Dec. 8, 20:49 GMT
UK-EU leaders to meet Wednesday
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Brussels on Wednesday to try to break the deadlock in Brexit talks with EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen on the major outstanding issues of fisheries, level playing field and governance, Sky News TV reports.
Tuesday Dec. 8, 14:05 GMT
Optimism in short supply
"The chances of reaching an agreement are now very slim,"EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier said according to Sky News TV Brussels Correspondent Adam Parsons citing an EU source.
The EU continues to stick to the position that it cannot sacrifice long term interests for short term goals
"We are very close to the moment of presenting urgent measures contingency for a possible no deal," Barnier was cited as saying in a bleak assessment of talks.
While both sides say they still want a deal the familiar stumbling blocks: fisheries, level playing field and governance remain.
"There is a not a great deal of optimism at the moment," the Sky correspondent said.
Tuesday Dec. 8, 14:05 GMT
Major stumbling block to deal removed
The government is dropping controversial plans to break international law in relation to Brexit following a behind-the-scenes deal between the UK and the EU, The Guardian reports.
It comes in exchange for promises by the EU to minimise checks on controls imposed on food and medicines going into Northern Ireland from Great Britain after Brexit.
Arrangements will apply whether or not a trade deal is negotiated, making the likelihood of a deal more probable the report said.
Tuesday Dec. 8, 13:10 GMT
Deal 'looking very, very difficult'
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a deal is "looking very, very difficult" and that people need to be ready for changes come what May on Jan. 1, The Guardian reports.
Monday Dec. 7, 20:22 GMT
"Cavernous differences" remain on major issues
There are "cavernous differences" on the major sticking points of Fisheries, Level Playing Field, and Governance, Sky News Brussels Correspondent Adam Parsons told viewers in an update.
Monday Dec. 7, 20:20 GMT
Fisheries still a major sticking point
"We agreed the conditions for finalizing an agreement are not there due to remaining significant differences on three critical issues: Level Playing Field, Governance and Fisheries," the European Commission and 10 Downing Street said in a joint statement after a 90 minute phone call between EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Outstanding issues will be discussed at a physical meeting between the leaders in Brussels in the coming days.
Monday Dec. 7, 19:44 GMT
'Talks on life support'
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen will meet in person in the coming days following an unsuccessful phone call between the leaders and after the two sides were unable to bridge the gap on oustanding issues, the Daily Mail reports.
Monday Dec. 7, 18:03 GMT
Scottish seafood exports at risk
Brexit disruption at the border could drag on for months regardless of whether there is a deal or not, damaging Scottish seafood exports to destinations including Boulogne-sur-Mer in France, Europe's leading seafood hub, the Press and Journal reports.
Monday Dec. 7, 17:03 GMT
Fisheries punch above their weight in trade talks
While fishing is a tiny part of the economy on both sides of the Channel, it carries big political weight, meaning it's no surprise that it is one of the final outstanding issues in post Brexit trade talks, BBC news reports.
Monday Dec. 7, 16:56 GMT
Prospects of a deal 'vanishing'
Prospects of a trade deal between the EU and the US are seemingly vanishing. On Monday, a British official warned talks could collapse unless negotiators make progress in the next few hours, and a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson ruled out the possibility of talks continuing next year, Bloomberg reports.
Monday Dec. 7, 16:04 GMT
UK government 'blinks' on internal market bill
The UK government says "it is prepared to remove three controversial clauses from its Internal Market Bill," which the European parliament has insisted would derail any chance of a EU-UK agreement trade agreement being ratified, Sky News TV reports.
Monday Dec. 7, 14:04 GMT
Breakthrough in talks disputed, talks won't go beyond Wednesday
After EU sources claimed a major breakthrough had been made in Brexit negotiations on the rights of European fleets to fish in UK waters -- a claim subsequently denied by a UK government source -- the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has set a new deadline for the Brexit negotiations, warning that the talks will not go beyond Wednesday, The Guardian reports.
Saturday Dec. 5, 10.06 GMT
Scottish fishermen: Any deal that only delivers 'pretend sovereignty' will be a 'wholesale betrayal'
The Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) is urging the Prime Minister to refuse to accept a bad deal for the UK fishing industry.
Amid reports the EU will not accept any material change to access rights or quotas for fishing in UK coastal waters, SFF chief executive Elspeth Macdonald is reminding Boris Johnson of the pledges he and his ministers made to ensure the UK became a fully-fledged coastal state and not one in name only.
"The Prime Minister and Michael Gove have given a series of undertakings to the industry that the UK will restore sovereignty over UK waters and control who gets to fish for what, where and when. That simple principle, which is the legal norm for coastal states, is under threat from the EU's intransigence.
"Acceptance of any deal that only delivers pretend sovereignty will be a wholesale betrayal of the industry that the Prime Minister has promised to support."