Brexit: Fishermen calling for EU to ‘overturn the ban’ says expert
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Former MEP Martin Daubney backed reports that Britain could restrict imports of European mineral water and several food products under retaliatory measures due to Brussels’ refusal to end its blockade on British shellfish. Mr Daubney added the restrictions should be in place until the EU “changes its mind” over its ban. He wrote on Twitter: “The way to make the EU see sense on their shellfish blockade is simple: block EU vessels taking shellfish from British waters until they change their minds.”
The “escalated contingency planning” erupted after European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides refused to meet UK Environment Secretary George Eustice.
The meeting was supposed to be aimed at helping end the blockade after the EU told British fishermen they are banned indefinitely from selling live mussels, oysters, clams and cockles to EU member states.
The shellfish can only be transported to Europe if they have been treated in purification plants.
But senior Government sources now have a plan to also stop the bloc selling their products in the UK in retaliation.
The EU’s temporary agreement on the importation of seed potatoes, which was in place until the end of June, could also be at risk due to the blockade.
The sources told the Sunday Telegraph: “There is thought being given to where we can leverage in other areas.
“We have continuity arrangements… we can stop these which means they won’t be able to sell their produce here.”
The EU sparked anger over the ban as the Commission had previously told the UK that the exports would be allowed.
But the recent row over the EU triggering Article 16 on the Northern Ireland protocol may have resulted in the U-turn.
This was done in a desperate bid for the EU to grab UK covid vaccines following a shortfall in the bloc’s supplies.
A senior minister told The Mail on Sunday: “This is end-of-empire stuff.
“They are trying to punish us for daring to become a nation state, and dread us succeeding on our own in case it encourages others to follow suit.
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“The triumph of our vaccine programme has led to this petty revenge.”
The Government said on Sunday Britain will make financial support available to more businesses in the fishing and shellfish industry.
It will expand the eligibility criteria to include catching and shellfish aquaculture businesses.
The grants, which will begin in March, will cover three months of average fixed costs.
They will be open to boats and shellfish exporters who have been hit by falling demand domestically during lockdown and disruption in exporting to the EU.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Our fishermen are at the heart of many of our coastal communities and we recognise the impact of coronavirus and the end of the transition period on them.
“This expansion of our 23-million-pound support package will ensure many more businesses can benefit from government support.”
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