Around 70 French protest vessels and 2 British naval patrol boats did arrive but the day passed quite peacefully.
The fishing incident is a reflection of mixed outcomes across business sectors. Power was not turned off for Jersey, or Calais blockaded but fishing licences remain and Jersey fishermen are being turned away from French ports.
People’s ability to make a living has been reduced on both sides, with an agreement needed based on mutual understanding.
Jersey’s Minister For External Affairs met with French fisherman. He concluded that with negotiations previously being carried out between London and Brussels, the reality of everyday life had been lost in translation.
With non EU aspects of Brexit, the same can apply. The new UK tariff regime from January 2021 applied a higher tariff than the EU to global imports of molasses, meaning higher feed costs for UK farmers.
An anti-competitive, yet accidental move, which has since been corrected. Common sense prevailed, as should be the case elsewhere.
Failure To Agree
The UK-EU agreement which came into force in January 2021 requires both parties to “engage constructively”. The possibility exists of arbitration, or proportionate action but the principle is to move forward together.
Instead, UK figures are using battle cries “The fight goes on, until one side gives way”, our media accuse the EU of Brexit revenge plots. Neither are the EU behaving ideally, when compromise is required.
Logical changes on Northern Ireland are not getting agreement, initiatives to reinvigorate trade are stumbling. All at a time when a variety of short term grace periods are coming to an end.
The Basic Barrier
Problems over food shipments are a fair example, where the UK wants the EU to accept that the UK has very similar rules to Europe. The EU feel this would undermine their zero risk approach and that the UK should align with EU rules.
This point on equivalence, rather than adherence is at the core of most issues. The British government state they must be free to diverge from EU legislation, or they will need to comply with rules they have no say in setting.
An intractable argument which affects progress on many aspects, from professional qualifications, to shipping procedures.
The Path Forward
Talks are ongoing but the public atmosphere remains luke warm, with unilateral moves from both sides, threats of legal action and political absurdity.
A diplomatic dispute over the status of the EU’s ambassador to the UK rambled on, with the UK refusing to grant the EU’s representative full diplomatic status. Brussels hit back in an equally unproductive way, by shutting the UKs head of mission out of meetings.
The matter was resolved, with a UK diplomat suggesting “It was a stupid thing to do and we’ve had to back down”. Neither did voices within the EU praise their own diplomacy, even though both sides talked of “goodwill and pragmatism”.
As a company focused on a system which comes from global agreement, ATA carnets, we are fortunate. Whilst countries can pursue moderate variations, there is essentially no UK-EU control over a trade aspect which works well.
The ATA carnet initiative was founded on business needs and economic benefit, with input from the business community. They know that the best if not only way to build trade is open, non political cooperation.