ASome may wonder what Brexit has to do with Fish and Chips, one of the iconic dishes of the British. It is so popular in London circles that the British novelist Charles Dickens mentioned it in two of his novels, Oliver Twist (1838) and A Tale of Two Cities (1859).
While Europe tightens restrictions in the face of the accelerated growth of the coronavirus outbreak, in Brussels one of the discussions of the European Summit, which took place this week, was Brexit and the future relationship with the Union.
Three issues separate them and I would dare to say that they are a tough nut to crack. Fishing first, the biggest headache; second, the level playing field – rules of the game – which, for the EU, means that the United Kingdom’s fiscal policy or state aid does not facilitate an unfair entry into the European market; third, governance, basically a specific method that solves in an agile way, possible future conflicts between the parties.
There is no doubt that in the ambitious agenda, London and Brussels identify fishing rights as fundamental in the negotiations for both parties, but neither wants to give in. In fact, French President Emmanuel Macron, one of the eight most affected countries, indicated at the Summit: “In no case will our fishermen be the ones slaughtered in this Brexit.”
For his part, Michel Barnier, EU negotiator for Brexit, criticized the lack of British “commitment”, because it only addresses selective issues and refuses to ask for an extension, slowing down negotiations in important areas. He indicated that the EU will not agree, in any economic relationship, that does not include balanced, sustainable and long-term solutions for fishing, which is fair competition between neighbors.
Being an island, the historical connection with the sea of England, allowed its growth and commercial expansion with the whole world. According to experts, the fishing industry today is not even the shadow of what it was, they blame the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy for the collapse and poverty of coastal communities, which establishes the class, number of fish that can be fished, size , the mesh to be used and the fishing methods in the English Channel. British fishermen denounce the negative impact of these measures, which they consider disproportionate.
When Brexit was launched, both the EU bloc and the United Kingdom agreed that there would be an 11-month transition period to negotiate the way in which trade relations between the two would unfold. They agreed that if they did not reach a pact within that period, the British would withdraw without an agreement.
Although the deadline expires on December 31, 2020, a time that experts predict as “impossible,” Boris Johnson said in September that if the obstacles are not overcome on October 15, both should accept it and move on. At the end of this column, when the deadlines have expired, the shadow of the non-agreement haunts the negotiations, increased by the positive of COVID-19 from several members of the summit.