FFL Advise SFF To Change It’s Tune On A Transition
The SFF are half right that some sort of stop gap/bridge between official exit and being able to exert our rights as an independent coastal state is needed but the lack of robust depth to their constitutional position is something that could severely trip both them and the rest of the industry up.
FFL have also pushed Mr Gove and civil servants on the arrangements for after we leave and how we actually ‘take back control’.
Continuing to honour current shares until we can exert our independence at international negotiations is fine in itself. However, it is the specific implementation and constitutional and legal underpinning that is fraught.
Currently the SFFs language (precision matters in law and politics) is of agreeing to a transition in principle but with the disagreement coming on timescale.
This is dangerous as it gives the idea of a transition credence even from one of the most pro-Brexit industry’s.
The problem is that a transition is part of a legal agreement in partnership with the EU to come in AFTER we officially leave. This will have to be ratified in an internationally binding treaty, giving a legal basis (a shareholding if you like) for the EU in that agreement.
In this instance it is HM Governments proposal to re-obey the entire Acquis (all EU law) AFTER we leave under Article 50 – as the Prime Minister has admitted this will include the CFP.
Now Article 50 (as agreed by the entire EU) says the “treaties cease to apply” – great – the EU has agreed in a treaty that everything ends, including the CFP, at 11pm on the 29th March ’19 – super!
This means the EU cannot claim “continuity of rights” under international treaty law, based around Article 30 & Article 70 of the Vienna Convention on Treaties, as the EU has agreed that everything “ceases”.
Now a transition where the UK agrees in a NEW treaty to re-obey all EU law (for however long – that’s inconsequential) means than in effect the UK will have re-agreed to the CFP – we have created continuity.
“Any ‘transition’ in effect undoes the clean slate Article 50 gives us”.
The EU could then fights its corner and drags out proceedings for a number of years whilst contesting this continuity of rights to defend its current interests.
Meanwhile, whilst trapped in the CFP and a continuation of the disastrous quota system after exit, this could allow the EU to finish off the UK fleet off with a rigorously enforced discard ban and the resultant “choke species” – where vessels must stop fishing on exhausting their lowest quota
With the loss of our fleet the EU can then claim (under Article 62.2 of UNCLOS) the “surplus” of UK resources which with the loss of our fleet we will no longer have the capacity to catch.
Now the EUs contest for ‘continuity of rights’ could be proved wrong after years of protracted litigation in the Hauge, however the British industry may not survive that long.
“What the SFF MUST do (for all our sake’s) is change the specific language and terms of a bridge before they dig into the trap FFL has warned against since October 2016”.
What FFL have pushed for is that Britain automatically declares and notifies (with fair evidence) what is ours under Zonal Attachment – to come in to effect the moment we leave.
Thereafter, we honour current shares for the 9months but on our terms – in effect we “gift” some sort of temporary ‘squatters rights’ to the EU where we loan them our repatriated fish to match current shares, under the strict terms that come coastal state negotiations we will be looking for a revision in our favour.
Now it is doubtful that HM Gov will turn the tap off overnight, but from discussions it looks likely that there will be a slow tip of the scales back in the British industry’s favour until the UK finally utilises all our resources.
BUT this must strictly be on our terms through ‘squatters rights’ where we are being benevolent to “loan” resources to the EU – this allows the UK to fulfil UNCLOS Article 62.3 to “minimize economic dislocation” – this clause doesn’t say avoid, it says minimize – be gentle.
This is something the SFF must change it’s tune to and pivot over. If the SFF don’t they will be used as justification through remain spin doctoring that the “industry” agreed some length of re-adopted CFP.
This undoes everything FFL has been fighting hard for and what the majority of the British industry and public want to see, which is a clean exit from the EU with an immediate end to the CFP by taking the clean slate Article 50 provides. Not shackling ourselves to the CFP a second time and exposing ourselves to a huge level of risk under a Transition which FFL are heavily fighting to see stopped in Westminster.