Fishing inextricable from Brexit trade agreement - Minister

Brexit – Situation of fishermen in the face of Brexit – Reply by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the Senate

Paris, 16 December 2020

I’m aware of your commitment to fishermen, through your previous position, as you’ve recalled; I think you’re aware of mine. And both of us, but also others here, sense disquiet on the quayside over negotiations that still haven’t ended, even as I speak.

Faced with this, our determination on fisheries is total. The President had the opportunity to say this very firmly to the Commission President, Ms von der Leyen, on Sunday evening. Under no circumstances, for us, must fishing be an adjustment variable, so it mustn’t be the focus of a separate agreement, because it’s an integral part of the whole trade agreement, and so it’s inextricable from it.

If the British want privileged access to the internal market, then French and European fishermen must have access to British waters, i.e. what is at stake, as you know: not only consistent access but an across-the-board, comprehensive approach that is not selective according to species or zones; secondly, clear and common technical standards, including on the size of nets, meshing etc. and trawling gear. And finally, taking into account historical rights and the current quota system. That’s what is still on the negotiating table at the moment.

Even so – and you’re right to emphasize it –, whatever happens, even in the event of a deal, the situation will be different, and the Prime Minister announced in Boulogne-sur-Mer just a few days ago that an action and support plan will be very quickly put in place, with dedicated actions for the fishing industry. And we also know that a sizeable portion of the Brexit fund decided on as part of the €5 billion of commitments made at the European Council a few days ago will be devoted to fisheries, whatever happens.

As you see, we’re determined when it comes to vigilance, but also determined when it comes to support./.

Brexit – Support for ports – Reply by Mme Barbara Pompili, Minister for the Ecological Transition, to a question in the National Assembly

Paris, 15 December 2020

The President was clear on 14 July: France is a leading maritime power and is going to increase its resources to rise to the level of its ambitions. As you know, these are threefold: to boost the competitiveness and sovereignty of our ports, to make them stakeholders in our regions’ intermodality and economic development, and to speed up the greening and digital transition of the sector.

You asked me more specifically, given the period, about the impact of Brexit on our French sea ports. I can confirm to you that we’re obviously following this issue closely. For the time being, we haven’t chosen the option of free ports or special economic zones, unlike the United Kingdom, but we’ll be proposing several measures as part of the strategy that will be presented in the new year.

I remind you that we’ve already implemented several measures, stipulated in particular in the road map that was presented at the end of 2019 to CIMer, the Interministerial Committee for the Sea, and which we’re currently deepening. Since this summer, we’ve been redoubling our efforts. For example, in September we announced massive investments under the recovery plan, €400 million of which will be dedicated to the maritime and river sectors and €200 million to the creation of rolling highways for freight, enabling us to link the major ports by rail – Calais and Sète in particular, but also Cherbourg and Dunkirk, which is close to your own heart.

In October, the Minister of Marine Affairs and the Minister Delegate for Transport signed a ports charter with the employers and unions in which the whole logistical chain commits itself to strengthening French ports.

Finally, in November, we laid new milestones for the Haropa plan [to integrate ports on the Seine], among other things by appointing an interim director-general. Talks are continuing in order to deepen this major ports project.

As you know, the national strategy will be presented at the beginning of next year. It’s been the focus of consultation with all the stakeholders, and the Minister Delegate for Transport has confirmed that the nation’s elected representatives will of course be involved in monitoring this work. We’ll then be excellently placed to ensure the French flag flies high./.

Published on 17/12/2020

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