The eurocrat called for frictions in post-Brexit UK-EU relations to be fixed via the mechanisms set out in the withdrawal agreement and trade deal. In May, France threatened to cut off the supply of electricity to Jersey as tensions escalated in a row over fishing rights for European vessels.
“The fishing rights, I think it is a good example of where we did not start well and we should aim to go back to the normal procedures,” Mr Vale de Almeida said when talking about flashpoints in relations.
“The methodology overall is for us to use the instruments that we created, the bodies we set up within the withdrawal agreement – the joint committee, specialised committees – and within the trade and cooperation agreement – a number of committees and working groups.
“It’s quite a complex governing structure we realise, but it’s the one that will allow us to address the issues in a consensual way, in a cooperative way.
“We want to avoid unilateral measures.”
Under the terms of the EU trade agreement, European fisheries are allowed continued access to British waters for at least five years so long as they have the necessary paperwork.
French fisheries have accused the UK and Channel Islands of being slow in issuing licences to allow EU vessels to continue to ship in its 12-mile zone.
The dispute reached its peak last month when Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to send the Royal Navy to defend St Helier port.
French fishermen had threatened to block off access to Jersey’s main port in protest at a lack of licences being issued.
The demonstration risked stopping vital supplies, including coronavirus vaccines, from being delivered to the island.
France’s maritime minister Annick Girardin also threatened “retaliation measures” to cut electricity to Jersey unless the dispute was resolved.
She told the country’s parliament: “We have the means. Even if I would regret getting to that point, we will if we have to.”
The island is reliant on France for approximately 95 percent of its electricity.
Tempers cooled in the row after Mr Johnson spoke to Emmanuel Macron on the phone, with both leaders agreeing to scale back the rhetoric.
Since then, the UK and EU have agreed on quotas for catch in British waters, with Mr Vale de Almeida hopeful the deal will help build trust on the fishing rights.
He told peers: “I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen in the recent weeks because the EU and UK found an agreement on total allowable catch for 2021 a couple of weeks ago.
“This is a good basis for future years in terms of the fishing rights and we all know this is always a controversial issue.
“We have some tensions around Jersey about fishing licences but I hope that the atmosphere we created by this agreement on the total catches for 2021 will put us on the right trajectory in terms of finding – within our agreements, within our procedures, in a consensual and joint way – solutions to these problems.”
More to follow…
Published at Thu, 24 Jun 2021 09:31:00 +0000