BREXIT & THE FALLOUT!

Much Brexit information affecting the UK, can be got from the main UK national newspapers, so where possible we will here be concentrating on the effects in newspapers of the EU and comments from the readers of European newspapers.

These we will translate as best possible, to maintain their meaning.

Are the EU running the clock down yet again?

19.04.21 - The European Parliament's foreign affairs and trade committees approved the EU-U.K. trade deal Thursday, moving the post-Brexit agreement a step closer to full ratification in the chamber.  The trade deal passed with an overwhelming 108 votes in favor, one vote against and four abstentions.

 

But this does not mean that the EU Plenary would vote for the deal....it seems that the EU are back to letting the clock count down to 30th April, last day possible to agree to the Brexit deal.

 

Earlier this week, leading MEPs once again refused to set a date to fully ratify the deal in plenary, saying they would wait until London gives reassurances it will apply the agreement. Political group leaders had decided in March to postpone their ratification vote after the U.K. unveiled plans to unilaterally extend grace periods on post-Brexit customs checks at Northern Ireland’s ports for at least six months.

 

"All progress could be lost, if the UK continues to unilaterally breach the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol on Northern Ireland," said MEP Andreas Schieder, the rapporteur on the file for the foreign affairs committee. "We look forward to a workable plan on the implementation of the protocol."

 

Both sides have been applying the deal provisionally since January 1, pending EU parliamentary scrutiny and ratification. But the temporary application period will lapse on April 30, meaning the European Parliament would have to greenlight the deal this month or risk causing major disruption in EU-U.K. trade relations and cooperation.

 

"No responsible politician will be able to justify [withholding ratification] after April because if we don’t ratify it, we will be back to zero, and the agreement will not be effective anymore, so this would damage both economies," said Christophe Hansen from the center-right EPP group, rapporteur for the trade committee.

 

Key MEPs are set meet on April 22 and to potentially schedule a date for the plenary vote.

Source & Photo: Politico

16.04.21 - from France

Some old news, but just shows that not every french person hates us!!

FRENCH mayor Julien Sanchez decided to name a road in his town "rue du Brexit" as a "homage to the decision of the sovereign British people".

The time since the Leave vote won in June 2016 involved unprecedented levels of parliamentary rancour, public anger and mistrust.

Many parliamentarians and politicians across the continent even tried to ignore the democratic will of the people.   Some, though, immediately showed support.

Just after the referendum, a French town christened one of its streets "rue du Brexit" in a move its right-wing Front National mayor said was to "pay tribute to the sovereign British people" who chose to leave the EU.

How Europe reported the Lifting of restrictions in UK

 After more than three months of Covid lockdown, English people are finally allowed back into the pub. Retail is also open again
April 13, 2021,

Despite freezing temperatures and sleet showers, the English celebrated the reopening of stores as well as pubs and restaurants on Monday. Gyms, hair salons, zoos and amusement parks were also allowed to reopen their doors for the first time after a good three-month strict lockdown. The third opening step is in line with the government's strategy of cautiously softening covid regulations announced in late February. "I urge everyone to behave responsibly," was Prime Minister Boris Johnson's appeal to the population.

Breakfast television at 8:15 a.m. showed cheesy-looking, freezing young women in Huddersfield (county of Yorkshire) before their first pint of beer.  In the pub trade, opening remains restricted to the outdoors, which brings its own problems in the face of bitterly cold April weather. As a result, many coffee house and pub operators have stocked up on blankets and electric heaters.

In addition to the weather, spacing rules between tables, which remain in effect, are giving restaurants and pubs a hard time. Matt Snell was only able to open three of his 12 branches of the Gusto restaurant chain on Monday. "At the others, the outdoor areas are not large enough to make the effort financially worthwhile," the general manager explained to BBC. The same is true of nearly half of the 48,000 pubs on the island, according to lobby group BBPA.#

Money saved

In contrast, long lines formed in front of covered shopping centers early in the morning. The manager of the Highcross center in Leicester told the BBC that it was already quite busy. Quite recognizably, many customers had saved a little money during the long months of consumerism. "That is now being spent in a big way."

The prime minister himself, alluding to his government's declared action a week ago, had expressed his "cautious but unalterable" intention to celebrate the day with a pint in a beer garden.

The official week-long national mourning for Prince Consort Philip, who died on Friday, scuttled the beautiful plan. As a consolation, the conservative head of government at least had his always unruly hair cut!  


Home visits still taboo

The opening of retail, catering and service providers comes on schedule two weeks after Englishmen had been allowed for the first time again a meeting to six. This is possible in both public parks and private gardens, visits to homes remain prohibited until mid-May.

The regulations in the smaller regions of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland differ only slightly from those in the largest part of the country. For example, while the Welsh have been allowed to vacation in their own country for two weeks, the English have only been allowed to do so again since Monday.

Schools and kindergartens have been open again since the beginning of March. Since then, government scientists have been keeping a close eye on the development of the pandemic indicators, but the feared setback and even a third wave have not materialized.

This is thanks to the highly successful vaccination program. In four months, 32.1 million people on the island have received at least one dose of vaccine against Sars-CoV-2, more than 47 percent of the total population. The proportion of those vaccinated twice was 11 percent as of Sunday. While up to 1,250 people died daily from Sars-CoV-2 in January, an average of 36 covid deaths are now reported daily. The incidence rate per week has fallen steadily to 23 recently.

In the meantime, the British are also back in the mood for joking again. Just in time for lunch, the Cornubia pub in Bristol, western England, opened its doors to the outside area. Asked for his best beer on offer, operator Phil Bennett cheerfully replied with typical british dry humour, "How about the 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?' They're only 5.2 percent alcohol!"

Source & Photo Der Standard

Reader comments:

1. You can be critical of Boris Johnson and the Brexit,  the way it is often done in our country, but undifferentiated condemnation is wrong.   In the Corona crisis, Johnson and the Brexit were obviously an advantage for GB over most EU countries. Especially the media would have the task not to take a stance on either side, but to differentiate.#

 

2. Even if the easing now comes too early and/or strongly and has to be taken back once again, which will probably be the case, GB remains several steps ahead of most EU countries.

Amusing how the evil GB is showing up the eu now.  the eu will be measured against GB even more often...
self-responsibility and courage to be independent is an absolute lesson for the eu...
GB should not be underestimated... with formalism and hanging around, the eu is at the end of the line.

Report in EU newspaper about Belfast riots & Brexit!.

8.04.21

Frustration over Brexit and police leads to new riots in Northern Ireland

A double-decker bus burst into flames in Belfast, the political showdown follows in the regional parliament on Thursday night.

 

Since New Year's Day, when the United Kingdom finally left the Single Market and Customs Union of the Brussels Community, an exemption rule has applied to Northern Ireland. This protocol in the EU Exit Treaty keeps open the land border between the Republic in the south and the British northern part of the island, which hardly exists in many places, and thus guarantees that the whole of Ireland can remain in the European Single Market largely undisturbed.

 

However, this created the need for limited customs and goods controls between the former troubled province and the main British island - a need that Boris Johnson's government likes to deny or downplay as irrelevant.

Empty supermarket shelves

The reality is different. The shelves of leading supermarkets remained empty time and again because of a lack of supplies due to time-consuming checks. The Brexit government blames Brussels' stubbornness for this; the EU Commission caused additional outrage because at the end of January it briefly held out the prospect of closing the land border in the vaccination dispute with Astra Zeneca. In return, London unilaterally extended the transitional periods for customs and veterinary controls, against which Brussels is taking legal action.

 

The political explosiveness of this Brexit fallout stems from the Northern Irish vote in 2016: 56 per cent wanted to remain in the EU at the time, and the majority has since grown, according to polls. Foster's Protestant Unionist Party, the DUP, was the only major party to argue not only for leaving, but also for the hardest Brexit imaginable. The negative consequences of Brexit are now causing anger and bitterness among their supporters as well as among the so-called loyalists ("loyal to the British Crown") who are prepared to use violence.

Prosecution criticised

This already unstable situation was compounded in Holy Week by a controversial decision of the Public Prosecutor's Office: it dropped the investigation against leading representatives of Sinn Féin, the largest Irish Catholic nationalist party, without bringing charges. Its long-time leader Gerry Adams, his successor Mary-Lou McDonald and the co-leader of the all-party government, Michelle O'Neill, had attended the funeral of the legendary IRA leader Robert "Bobby" Storey in June with around 2,000 others.

 

In doing so, they were not only demonstrating their party's unwavering solidarity with the Irish Republican terrorist group, which was responsible for 60 per cent of the approximately 3,500 deaths in the 30-year-long civil war up to 1998. They also blatantly violated applicable Covid rules. The reason given by the prosecution for not bringing charges was that the organisers of the IRA power demonstration had had prior contact with the local police.#

 

Outrage at the state's perceived caving in to the Republican elite erupted in bloody riots in Protestant neighbourhoods of Belfast, (London) Derry and Carrickfergus. Officers of the local PSNI were pelted with stones, parked cars and police vehicles went up in flames, as did telephone boxes.#

 

Children and young people are being "cynically abused", believes Mark Lindsay, the local district director of the police union, and suspects that the background is not so much political motives as recent successes in the fight against local smugglers and drug traffickers. In fact, several paramilitaries from both sides have shifted their political activities to lucrative criminal business.

 

Justice Minister Long of the non-denominational Alliance Party, on the other hand, insists on joint political responsibility and calls on London to act: "The British government has broken promises and announced lawbreaking," the party leader rages. For Johnson and Foster it is time to face the negative Brexit consequences and to look for viable solutions together with the EU.

 

Reader comments:

Unfortunately, it was to be expected that this would affect the delicate peace.
This was already noticeable in 2019 during a tour of Northern Ireland. Unfortunately!

how long do you think it will be before london also suffers this wrath and bombs are set off again?

 

The fact that the Northern Ireland conflict could be settled peacefully was almost a miracle and only possible thanks to the superhuman patience of individuals involved. And now this! Thank you Brexiteers, thank you Boris!

 

Well, I guess the EU was a bit naive there. "Ok, there can't be a border on the island of Ireland. We'll just put the border in the Irish Sea and everything will be fine". I guess the EU didn't count on the loyalists.

 

If the EU had given in to this mad Johnson, who doesn't give a damn about the peace of Northern Ireland despite the murder of a 29 year old journalist in 2019, and raised the borders between Northern Ireland and the rest of the island again, then the attacks would have started from 1/1. Perhaps they will look more closely at Northern Ireland: it was the EU that made the Good Friday Agreement possible.

Report from Austrian newspaper about our vaccine success

5th April 2021-source Der Standard

There have been 2,297 Corona cases recently.    Not in Austria - where there were 2,217 on Monday - but in the United Kingdom, which is more than seven times larger in terms of population.

 

Steadily falling infection and death rates, as well as the continued success of the vaccination program, therefore now allow the UK to take further steps out of the Corona lockdown. Boris Johnson confirmed on Easter Monday after a cabinet meeting the roadmap of his Conservative government announced six weeks ago. The prime minister affirmed that the government would continue to proceed "very cautiously.

 

Opponents of vaccination play little role in public debate on the island. But they fear being excluded from public life with the new idea for co-vid free passports!

 

In the meantime, 31.6 million people on the island have been vaccinated at least once against Sars-CoV-2, almost half of the entire population. Among those over 70, the vaccination rate was 95 percent. Even among those vaccinated twice, where it had long lagged behind, the U.K. now has a rate of 7.9 percent, ahead of comparably sized countries such as Germany (5.2) or France (4.5), but also ahead of Austria (6.3).

 

Reader comments:

1. No UK miracle  - With this vaccination rate neither a 'miracle' nor a success of great (political, or what-ever) management, but a banal consequence, like apples fall down and never up.
And the call for more vaccine doses, no matter which colour, will not bring more vaccine doses to Austria.
The only thing that could have been done a year ago (again) would have been a licensed vaccine production, then we would now be where GB / Israel are.

 

2. There is a podcast from the Spectator called "Planet Normal" which discusses current British politics (of course much less left-wing than the Guardian, but, in my opinion, very informative and thought-provoking). I can only recommend it if you want to find out about current affairs in British politics and don't want to see the whole thing through a German/Austrian lens!

 

3. "Prime Minister Boris Johnson may be a hung-up idiot in many ways, but he hired a capable manager and told her, 'Make sure as many people as possible are vaccinated in an order dictated by experts.

Our own health minister  ' Anschober would have had that option, too." There is nothing more to add to that!

Corona vaccine debacle: EU should have listened to Bill Gates

report from OE24 - Austria 26.03.21

Microsoft founder's advice was a year ago - the USA & Great Britain complied

While countries such as Israel, Great Britain and the USA are moving at a tremendous pace in vaccinating against the coronavirus, the vaccination campaign in the EU is only gaining moderate momentum. There are several reasons for this lagging behind, which are now widely known.

In the dispute over a fairer distribution of the still far too few vaccines, the European Union has now found a compromise from which Austria will also benefit, but the gap to the "vaccination world champions" is likely to grow further. This, of course, has enormous consequences for the economy and the psychological strain on people.


Advice from Bill Gates from April 2020

As it turns out retroactively, the EU should have simply listened to Bill Gates. Back in April 2020, the Microsoft founder pointed out that countries should immediately start creating production capacity for vaccines. While the U.S. and the U.K. started early to implement this advice, even large EU countries like Germany or France did not see this as necessary. As it turns out, this now has drastic consequences. Every country in the EU currently has too few vaccines.

"Inexplicable"

The management consultant Daniel Stelter, who is also the founder of the discussion forum "Beyond the Obvious", which specializes in strategy and macroeconomics, cannot understand this behavior of governments. The expert recently told Manager Magazin that in view of the gigantic quantities needed worldwide to vaccinate, it is inexplicable to him why nothing has been done to build up production capacities. Vaccine production is a classic area where the private sector cannot build capacity on its own, given the significant risks involved, Stelter said. This was clear even to Corona skeptic and then U.S. President Donald Trump , who very early on put tens of billions in hand to get vaccine production going.

Conclusion

Of course, hindsight is always wiser. But as the moderate vaccination progress in the EU shows, in retrospect a lot of things went wrong. And this includes the failure to provide the necessary production capacities. Many EU countries now see it that way. They now want to massively upgrade vaccine production...

 

Somes comments from German newspaper readers

 

It looks like the USA and the UK signed better contracts with the pharmaceutical companies last year than the EU and also invested proactively in production. I wonder why this was missed in the EU, i.e. by us (!).
We should not whine about it, but look at what we have done wrong and correct it where possible.
Hopefully, we will finally realize that not everyone in the world is our best friend when it comes to something.

 

Actually, I don't quite understand the excitement - because ever since AstraZeneca's vaccine was in development, Italian media kept writing about how the British will have first dibs on it and then the others will come along. For example, LaRepubblica wrote back in May of last year that if the vaccine worked, AstraZeneca would initially produce 30 million doses - "all predetermined for the UK."

 

 

Richard Szostak. the EU’s new Brexit divorce mediator

23.03.21

Richard Szostak has been handed a task that some would consider impossible: Breaking the EU-U.K. logjam over its divorce agreement as tempers flare over the pandemic.

 

As the head of a new EU unit launched earlier this month to partly replace Michel Barnier’s Brexit taskforce, Szostak is now entrusted with shaping the logistics of the EU’s new relationship with Britain.

Comprised of just 30 officials, his team is roughly half the size of Barnier’s, and Szostak has to work amid deepening EU-U.K. divisions over coronavirus vaccine rollouts — a rift that has escalated into public recriminations — against the backdrop of the EU’s threat to take the U.K. to court over a border dispute. 

“It’s going to be all about damage limitation,” said Charles Grant, director at the Centre for European Reform think tank.  read full article from Politico

15.03.21

The European Commission today launched twin-track legal action against the British government over its decision to unilaterally delay the introduction of post-Brexit checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

 

The EU executive body said in a statement that it had sent two letters to the U.K. government, which contain threats of two different paths for legal proceedings against London should the British government not be willing to settle the dispute via negotiations in the coming weeks.

 

As a first measure, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice — the first step of a so-called infringement procedure — "for breaching the substantive provisions of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland" in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement "as well as the good faith obligation" under that deal.

 

The triggering of the infringement procedure means London has one month to reply to the EU and explain or remedy its actions. If the Commission is not satisfied with the response, it can formally request the U.K. government change course. Should that still not yield the desired result, Brussels can refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU. Provided that the top EU court decides in favor of the Commission, that ruling could be enforced by imposing financial penalties against the U.K.

 

Secondly, Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič sent a political letter to David Frost, the U.K.'s Brexit minister, "calling on the UK government to rectify and refrain from putting into practice" the announced extension of the grace period for border checks between Northern Ireland and the British mainland.

 

This letter allows the two sides to hold mediation talks in the EU-U.K. Joint Committee, which is chaired by Šefčovič and Frost, but also opens the possibility of launching a dispute settlement procedure under provisions in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, which may ultimately lead to Brussels imposing tariffs on U.K. goods.

Šefčovič, however, expressed hope that "we can solve these issues in the Joint Committee without recourse to further legal means."

 

The Commission statement argued "it is the second time in the space of six months that the U.K. government is set to breach international law" with its actions, referring to planned provisions in the U.K. Internal Market Bill last year that Brussels also considered to be a violation of the Withdrawal Agreement, and which London withdrew in December.

The U.K. government argues that postponing the introduction of checks was necessary to prevent disruption to trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country. Speaking in the House of Lords on behalf of the U.K. government, Baroness Scott said: “We will defend our position vigorously and our measures are all legal.”

 

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during an official visit to Coventry on Monday that he hadn't yet seen the EU's letter, but stressed: "I think what I would say to our friends in Brussels is very simple — the protocol is there to uphold and to guarantee, to buttress the Good Friday Agreement. [The protocol] should guarantee not just trade and movement north-south but east-west as well."

 

He added: "That's all we’re trying to sort out with some temporary and technical measures which we think are very sensible. But obviously we’ll look forward to our discussions with our EU friends and see where we get to.”

The latest EU-U.K. dispute has also led to the European Parliament repeatedly postponing its decision on when to vote on the post-Brexit trade deal. MEPs still have to approve that deal before the end of April so that it can fully enter into force.

 

Still, the Commission today urged MEPs to end the delay, arguing that approving the trade deal could help with the legal action under the Withdrawal Agreement. "Ultimately the dispute settlement mechanisms under the Withdrawal Agreement allow cross-retaliation via the [trade agreement]," an EU official said, referring to potential suspensions of tariff cuts.

Therefore, the official argued, implementing the trade deal "gives you bigger leverage to ensure that the Withdrawal Agreement is respected."

Source: Politico eu

News Ferry service direct from UK to Morocco and Africa

It will also be used to encourage British importers to source fresh produce and other products directly from Morocco and Africa, promoting southbound trade and scaleup exchanges between the two kingdoms, which have a long-standing history of over 800 years.

 

Captain Brian Murphy, Marine and Port Director at Poole Harbour Commissioners, said: “We are very excited to be hosting United Seaways’ brand-new roll-on-roll-off ferry service. It will reduce the time taken for goods to arrive by half and will see significant environmental benefits by reducing road freight.

 

“This is an exciting opportunity for UK, Moroccan and African importers and exporters, who are looking to develop existing and establish new business relationships. We will work closely with United Seaways to ensure this service is a huge success."

 

Zeyd Fassi Fehri, MD United Seaways, said: “Our aim is to support businesses with post-Brexit, supply chain challenges and opportunities. This service will create a sustainable and environmental alternative when launched in the coming months.

 

"The speed and efficiency of the vessel ensures a longer shelf life for fresh products whilst reducing road congestion, tolls and additional import procedures that have arisen since Brexit.”

 

Nigel Jenney, CEO of the Fresh Produce Consortium, said: “Any solution that makes imports more effective, or eases trading with alternative countries, may well be a great opportunity for helping the UK source fresh produce from around the world.

 

“I anticipate a strong demand for this new direct roro service. The route offers a rapid service and avoids the additional tariff complications of trading via the EU since the beginning of the year.

“At this challenging time, it's a very welcome alternative to the increasing complexity of trading with Europe.”

 

Source+Photo: Fresh fruit portal

More EU countries admit they got it wrong over Astra vaccine.

5th March 2012

 

Finally EU countries are now realising that it was a mistake to trash the Astra vaccine. Although they try to cover this with various excuses, rather than the true reason of being angry at Brexit!

 

Now Austria has become the latest country to approve the vaccine.

 

Austrian Vaccination campaign will continue to gain momentum
After its meeting today, the National Immunization Panel (NIG) voted in favor of the use of AstraZeneca's Corona vaccine without an upper age limit in accordance with the approval of the European authorities - and thus also for all persons over the age of 65, as well as high-risk and at-risk persons. "The vaccination campaign will thus continue to gain momentum," Health Minister Rudi Anschober said in a statement to APA on Friday.

Vaccination by summer

He added that the goal of making a vaccine available to everyone in Austria by summer is now another step closer. The city of Vienna this week launched a broader effort in the over-65 age group, and on Friday Lower Austria Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner (ÖVP) also advocated a general release of the Corona vaccine.

 

Previously the excuse for non use had been that Due to the limited data situation for Astra Zeneca, a recommendation had been made in many countries to only vaccinate persons under 65 years of age.

 

Tough new British rules against damaging fishing practices, are putting pressure on the EU.

 

16th Feb 21 - Report from Politico Europe

British Brexit backers have long argued quitting the EU could make the U.K. greener — now there’s some evidence to back that up.

 

It comes from a British move to strengthen environmental rules at sea, something that could force the EU to follow suit. The U.K. recently decided to ban bottom trawling — a fishing technique where enormous nets are dragged along the sea bottom — in the marine protected area of the Dogger Bank in the North Sea.

 

"Now that we have left the [EU] Common Fisheries Policy, we are able to deliver on our commitment to achieve a healthy, thriving and sustainable marine environment," Environment Secretary George Eustice said of the February 1 decision.

 

The U.K. was able to take the decision because it's no longer part of the EU. That is galvanizing environmental groups to push EU countries to do the same.

 

“When the U.K. left the Common Fisheries Policy … that triggered an obligation under the Habitats Directive to conduct what’s called an appropriate environmental impact assessment,” said Thomas Appleby, lawyer and associate professor at the University of the West of England.

 

The scientific recommendation led the U.K. to decide to completely ban bottom trawling in the Dogger Bank. “That, of course, puts pressure on the European Union members," Appleby said, because the obligation to conduct an environmental impact assessment under the U.K.'s post-Brexit habitats rules are copy-pasted from the EU's nature protection laws. This means the EU has the same obligation as the U.K. to assess the ecological state of its part of the Dogger Bank and eventually restrict bottom trawling too, he argued.

 

“It’s clear that that the U.K. has been forced to look into [the protection of the Dogger Bank] because of Brexit. But it does set a very strong precedent for the EU as well,” Appleby said.

EU countries have so far resisted stricter rules against bottom trawling on the Dogger Bank, despite Brussels pushing for the adoption of fisheries management measures in this protected area as required by the EU Habitats Directive.

 

But a letter from the European Commission’s marine department addressed to NGOs and obtained by POLITICO, which was sent just after the British announcement, has NGOs hoping that Brussels could nudge EU countries to increase protection of their part of the Dogger Bank.

 

“We continue to encourage Member States to agree on a more ambitious proposal,” the letter reads, and adds that the Commission “will continue to work relentlessly to progress towards achieving these commitments.”

 

The effort to tackle bottom trawling, a practice environmental groups say damages the sea bed and biodiversity, is a signal of a green rivalry between London and Brussels.

“I think there is, developing, a kind of race to the top, instead of a race to the bottom” following Brexit, said Charles Clover, executive director of the Blue Marine Foundation, an NGO.

 

Under the EU-U.K. trade and cooperation deal, both parties are free to set their own policies on environmental matters such as biodiversity conservation. But these levels of protection cannot be weakened below what existed at the end of the Brexit transition period or “in a manner affecting trade or investment between the Parties.”

 

That means if the U.K. puts in place stricter marine conservation rules on the Dogger Bank and restricts some fishing techniques, this will apply to EU fishing vessels too.

Appleby said he is currently investigating whether the EU could be found in breach of the trade deal if it doesn't match the U.K.'s level of environmental protection on the Dogger Bank.

 

Clover argued that Brexit has made it easier for NGOs to challenge U.K. fishing rules. This allowed the Blue Marine Foundation to sue the British government for giving fishing licenses for the Dogger Bank, arguing these did not respect marine habitat protection rules.

“If you move to the common law, you can sue the government directly,” Clover said — spelling out the difference between U.K. and EU law. “In the EU … you cannot sue the government [directly in the Court of Justice of the EU] for not applying its own laws … you need first to file a complaint to the European Commission.” It’s then up to the Commission to decide whether to start an infringement procedure.

Fishy business

While the British move pleases environmentalists, it’s angering EU fishermen.

“This is a devastating decision for European fishermen,” said Pim Visser, president of the European Association of Fish Producers Organisations, pointing to Danish fishers who catch 90 percent of their fish on the Dogger Bank, a shallow area of the North Sea about 100 kilometers off the British coast.

 

In 2018, U.K. boats caught 1,318 tons of fish on the Dogger Bank, while EU fleets caught 34,758 tons — the estimated value of the catches amounted to £2.7 million for the U.K. and £10.6 million for the EU.

Visser said he doesn’t understand why the U.K. changed its position about bottom trawling.

 

“I’ve followed the discussion in the last seven, eight years. The U.K. has always had a point of view where about 30 percent of the most vulnerable area would be closed, and they have now come to a blanket approach of 100 percent closure,” he said, calling the step "absolutist."

 

The Dogger Bank is a protected zone under the EU Habitats Directive and is shared among the U.K., Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. Environmental groups have repeatedly called for a complete ban of bottom trawling in the zone, arguing this fishing technique is not selective enough, threatens conservation efforts and the long-term sustainability of fish stocks.

 

“Under the Habitats Directive … for fishing to take place in a marine protected area, there should be an appropriate environmental impact assessment of whether the activity concerned is damaging to the special area of conservation involved,” said Clover. “That has not happened."

 

EU countries are currently working on a joint recommendation to be presented in the first quarter on how to make fisheries rules compatible with environmental protection in the Dogger Bank. As part of the 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, the EU committed to establish fisheries management measures in all marine protected areas.