Brussels is used to the long mornings of negotiations between ministers, diplomats and senior officials of the European Commission (EC), but the recent Council of Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries concluded early this morning has surpassed records from other years: 46 hours of negotiation and a double-edged sword of Damócles, with agonizing negotiations with the United Kingdom over Brexit and the global pandemic of the Covid. But how did Spain get out of this complex game? Attentive to our question – answer:
What has been decided about Brexit and how does it affect Spain?
Faced with the uncertainty surrounding the negotiation between London and Brussels, in which fishing is emerging as the last major stumbling block, the European Fisheries Ministers have opted for a provisional solution: extension of 2020 quotas for the first three months of next year, in those species or fisheries affected by Brexit (119 out of 146), with the possibility of fishing up to 25% of the quota in this period and up to 65% in the case of species of great interest such as mackerel, blue whiting and the juriel.
It should be remembered that Spain is part of the group of eight EU countries affected by Brexit in terms of fishing, along with Germany, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden. Only in British waters do they fish 88 Spanish ships, which generate 2,150 direct jobs and annually collect around 9,000 tons of fish, mainly species such as hake, rooster and monkfish. Luis Planas, minister of the Spanish branch, has considered that this agreement “Gives stability to the Spanish fleet” and time for negotiations to move forward.
What happened to the 15% cut in fishing days, proposed with Brussels, for the Mediterranean trawl fleet, which the sector considered lethal?
Here Spain, with the largest affected fleet, 597 ships and some 3,000 direct jobs, has stood up alongside Italy (680 ships) and France (63 ships), also affected by the Brussels proposal, although it has not achieved its initial intention to be park any clipping. Specifically, with the support of other Mediterranean countries, it has achieved the “snip” is reduced from 15% to 7.5%. Planas, in a statement at the end of the Council, acknowledged that the Commission “was reluctant to drop the 10%” and valued the agreement as “positive” since in his opinion “it guarantees the continuity of the traditional fishing activity”. In figures, Agriculture has defended that the result improves the intentions of Brussels in 9,176 days: 17 more business days on average for each vessel.
What about other species of great interest to the Spanish fleet such as southern hake or sole?
Overall, Brussels’ cuts in fishing quotas for 2021 have been smoothed: For example, in the case of southern hake (Cantabrico, Gulf of Cádiz and Portugal) the original proposal was for a reduction in the volume of caputras of 13%. The agreed is 5%. If you look at the sole of the national fishing ground, the claims of Brussels have also been nuanced, which had set itself a target of a 41.5% cut but that Spain has managed to leave by 20%. Here the scientific advances in the knowledge of this fishing resource have been valued. Another similar case is that of Norway lobster from the Gulf of Cádiz whose quota will be reduced by 15%, when the European Commission bet on 20%. Special mention deserves the Cantabrian anchovy whose quota has been set at 33,000 tons, increasing by 3.5% compared to 2020. It is one of the few that have risen.