The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Fishing: it has to be cast iron guaranteed

All that is required is to exempt any fisheries acquis from the withdrawal bill.

John Ashworth

7th September 2017
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Having spent the past 25 years against the European Union, I never thought I would see the day I would agree with Barnier and Junker, that our side has become an embarrassment.

 

It is no good expecting the EU to be flexible, where their structure is one of rigidity. Even if Barnier wanted to bow to British demands, he can't, the system doesn't allow it.

 

On the home front, we now start what was to be called the Great Repeal Bill, and is now called the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. This is a dangerous bill, not because it is repealing the European Communities 1972 Act and its amendments, but because it is turning the acquis, the 34   individual subject contents, into domestic law on the assumption by doing so, will mean the EU regulations we are presently controlled by will continue from day before today after exit, and create a smooth transition. However, it is not that simple.

 

The bizarre process then starts. Article 50 has taken us cleanly out of the CFP, and no one EU member can complain because all members have accepted this process by Treaty. Our own Westminster Parliament, by bringing the Fisheries acquis across, our parliament has endorsed   the CFP we have just left, and carried it forward as if nothing has happened, in the process giving 59% of our marine resource away again.

 

So, we have come out of the CFP, all bar name gone back in with the acquis, and then to come out again a fishiness bill has to be created on time and very accurate to counter the withdrawal bill.

 

If there is a withdrawal agreement, which is looking highly unlikely because of time, but if there is, it will have to be written to match the fisheries bill.

 

We are heading to the situation Parliamentarians will have to vote on the withdrawal bill not knowing what is coming up in the Fisheries Bill, nor knowing if a withdrawal agreement will be finalised, thereby giving HMG a blank piece of paper based on trust, where anything can go wrong, and the nations resource could be lost for good whereas all that is required is to exempt any fisheries acquis from the withdrawal bill.

 

All we know on the fisheries bill, is the regulations will be adjusted accordingly, but we don't know what or how., which bits will be taken out or left in. If all reference to the EU is taken out, such as “member State” “Union” “Commission”, on the main Fisheries regulation 1380.2013 there will be hardly anything left, So why take the difficult route.

 

When Fishing for Leave campaigned on the subject of the London Fisheries Convention 1964 we did so as a precautionary measurer, so as to avoid legal challenges at a later day.  We appreciate the Minister took that advice.

 

The same applies to this torturous route HMG are attempting. Our fear, by bringing the fisheries acquis into domestic legislation, the present CFP measures are being endorsed by our parliament, and could run us foul of the Vienna Convention, which convention is about Treaties, and it is not treaties that are being moved into domestic legislation, but regulation, and by de-coupling the regulation from the treaty, the Vienna Convention does not apply.

 

However, EU regulations take their authority from the Treaties and can't be de-coupled, but the process of the acquis being moved to domestic provides the evidence of our parliament supporting the CFP, and it is the withdrawal agreement (if there is one), which will be a legal agreement, and it is that, that could bring us foul of the Vienna Convention.

 

Just as our argument over the London Convention was to take a cautionary approach to avoid any legal challenge, the same applies here, why take the risk because if we are faced with a challenge, it could drag on for years, which would see the final nail in the coffin for the British fishing Industry and the inability to rejuvenate our coastal communities.

 

Just as Barnier is saying the British position lacks detail, so we have the same situation here, you can't expect parliamentarians to vote for something without the detail. The importance of this nation's resource goes beyond “trust” it has to be cast iron guaranteed.

By John Ashworth of Fishing for Leave

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Tuesday, 21 November 2017