Christian Allard MEP has called for the Scottish government to take the lead UK role in this year’s December EU Fisheries Council, the meeting where fishing quotas will be negotiated for 2020.
The meeting will take place just days after the general election during a period when talks for the formation of a new UK government may well be unresolved. There is therefore a risk that the UK will be without a functioning government during the vital fisheries talks.
Mr Allard has said that by allowing the Scottish fisheries secretary to lead the negotiations on behalf of the UK, full preparations can be made away from the post-election turmoil in London.
EU rules fully permit ministers from devolved governments to lead in Council meetings – with the Flemish fisheries minister routinely negotiating on behalf of Belgium as of right.
Mr Allard stated: “The threat of Brexit is causing huge uncertainty across the entire Scottish economy and nowhere is this truer than in the fishing industry. Huge promises were made to the sector by the Leave campaign – but equally huge questions remain unanswered.
“One thing that is certain is that the UK will have to take part in this December’s Fisheries Council and that these talks are crucial. The scientific advice on certain key stocks is concerning and it is imperative that the UK is represented by a fully focused negotiating team.
“These talks will take place immediately after the general election and it is far from certain who the relevant UK minister will be.
“Whatever the outcome of the election, we already have a Scottish government in office and Scotland makes up by far the largest part of the UK fishing industry. Fergus Ewing has the experience and the political motivation to defend Scotland’s interests – and the UK should allow him to lead the delegation to these vital talks.”