Fish export problems show that Brexit has consequences, says EU ambassador


Problems exporting fish to continental Europe as a result of Brexit are a sign that “decisions have consequences”, Brussels said.

The European Union’s ambassador to the UK Joao Vale de Almeida said he hoped the situation would improve once businesses and officials adapted to the new trading arrangements.

But he warned that the consequences of leaving the single market and customs union meant that extra checks and paperwork were now an ongoing fact of life.

Brexit – Scottish fishing
Brexit – Scottish fishing

There is fury within the fishing industry about the problems they have experienced attempting to export their catch to the lucrative continental markets.

Seafood hauliers protested in Westminster this week about the chaos.

Environment minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble acknowledged there were “early problems” that needed to be addressed and highlighted a £23 million compensation fund announced by Boris Johnson.

Lord Gardiner said: “I think that there is work to be done this side of the Channel and with our neighbours to improve what have been some early problems that we need to resolve, and that is why officials are working with individual companies to ensure that the situation improves rapidly.”

Brexit – Scottish fishing
Brexit – Scottish fishing

Mr Johnson has described the issues as “teething problems” but the EU’s ambassador said there would be ongoing bureaucracy.

At an event hosted by the Bright Blue think tank Mr de Almeida said: “I like to say that decisions have consequences in the sense that the choice made by the United Kingdom – to leave the European Union first and then to leave the single market and the customs union, the sort of Brexit that you voted for – has consequences.

“One of them is that there has to be checks and controls at our borders, there is no way out of that.”

He acknowledged that part of the problem was due to the late deal – reached on Christmas Eve just days before the transition period expired at the end of 2020, which caused problems for firms and the customs administration to adapt.

“We hope that things will improve in the coming weeks but don’t forget that things have fundamentally changed because of the departure from the EU and the departure from the single market and the customs union,” he said.

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