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At the end of the transition period on 1 January 2021 the UK will cease to be part of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The UK will become an independent coastal state and  fully responsible for managing fisheries in the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 200 miles. This will include setting total allowable catches (TACs), distributing quotas and determining who has access to fisheries.

The UK position in the negotiations is that fisheries and trade should not be linked. There should be a separate fisheries agreement that would provide a framework for fishing opportunities and access to waters to be negotiated annually. Future fishing opportunities would be based on the principle of zonal attachment, similar to the EU’s fisheries agreement with Norway. Trade in fisheries products would be covered by the free trade agreement, but the agreement on fisheries would be separate to the free trade agreement.

The EU position is that trade and fisheries should be linked and there should be little change to current catch share for either Party. The EU wants any agreement to “uphold continued reciprocal access” to fishing waters and “uphold stable quota shares”. Existing quota shares would only be amended with agreement of both parties. Failure to comply would lead to imposition of tariffs. The EU position is that it will not agree a wider free trade agreement without an agreement on fisheries.

The aim set out on the Political Declaration is that the EU and UK should reach agreement on fisheries by 1 July 2020, in order to progress agreement in other areas. Both Parties have published draft documents reflecting their positions on fisheries. The EU published a draft text for an overarching agreement, including fisheries, on 18 March 2020. The UK published its draft fisheries framework agreement on 19 May 2020.

To date there has been a lack of progress on fisheries and a number of other areas, which was reflected in the exchange of letters between the chief negotiations David Frost and Michel Barnier following the publications of the UK draft texts. Very limited progress was made during the fourth round of negotiations from 2-5 June 2020.

For an overview of the negotiations to date please see Commons Briefing Paper The UK-EU future relationship: the March 2020 EU draft treaty and negotiations update. Further background on fisheries can be found in the Commons Briefing Papers on Fisheries and Brexit, and on Fisheries Management in the UK.

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