- The historic Brexit deal appeared on Thursday to have resolved the bitter dispute on fishing, but business leaders aren’t as satisfied as negotiators.
- A mayor of a major french fishing port told Europe Radio 1 that it leaves many questions unanswered.
- UK services were still left in limbo with no agreement in what UK opposition leader, Keir Starmer, called a “thin agreement”.
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Thursday’s historic Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU still leaves the fishing sector with many key questions unanswered, the mayor of a major French fishing port has warned.
Frederic Cuvillier, mayor of Boulogne-sur-Mer, on Friday warned that the agreement leaves French fishermen wondering how it will actually impact them once the festive season is over.
The hard-fought agreement between the two parties was resolved, agreeing to a five year transition period over fisheries after which the EU catch would have to reduce by 25%, according to the announcement on Thursday.
This was a concession on the part of the UK, who had demanded a 60% fall at the start of the week.
But with few details available to business leaders — let alone most politicians — French fisherman have been left in the lurch, trying to work out how their trade will work in the new year.
“Relief for our fishermen, but what will be the impact on stocks? Who, for example, will be handling the controls? And over what time?” Cuvillier said in an interview with Europe 1 radio, as reported by Reuters.
He added: “The only certainty today is that we need to find, during the transition period, more deals within the deal.”
Despite Johnson calling the deal “reasonable” for the fishing industry in Thursday’s press conference, it is not just the EU side left dissatisfied.
“The industry will be bitterly disappointed that there is not more of definitive break,” Barrie Deas, chief executive of The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, said in an interview with Reuters.
“It’s a bit of a fudge.”
For Deas, Johnson has given in to EU demands in order to secure a deal overall, making “significant concessions” in the process.
“It was clear that Boris Johnson wanted an overall trade deal and was willing to sacrifice fishing,” he told the Press Association.
With what appears to be a ‘bare-bones’ deal agreed, the fishing sector is not alone in its uncertainty. Agreements are yet to be made on the services industry — the biggest sector of the UK’s economy.
“While a deal is welcome, financial and related professional services are clear-eyed about the need for both sides to continue to develop the relationship in services in the years ahead,” Miles Celic, chief executive officer of financial services lobby group TheCityUK, told Financial News.
“The task now must be to move the deal rapidly through ratification, allowing both sides to use this agreement as a foundation on which to build, and not a ceiling to future ambition,” he added. Even with a deal made, parts of the UK’s financial services industry remain unconvinced.
“Over the longer term I have sincere concerns about the UK. Brexit does mean that the UK will likely lose some of its sheen. Being excluded from the world’s largest single market area will see jobs, people, and capital flows trickle away from the UK, in search of destinations which instead embrace globalization,” Seema Shah, Chief Strategist at Principal Global Investors said Thursday.
The deal still needs to be approved by both the UK parliament and the sovereign states of Europe, but most commentators think it will get the green light.
Especially after Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the UK’s opposition party, said Labour would back the “thin agreement.”