EU readies support for fishermen if hit by no-deal Brexit

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The EU’s executive proposed contingency plans on Wednesday for fishing in the event of a no-deal Brexit, suggesting EU fishermen could be compensated if barred from Britain, and British boats could fish in EU waters for the rest of this year.

A boat is seen entering Umag’s port in sunset June 23, 2013. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic

With the March 29 deadline for Britain to leave the EU approaching, the House of Commons will vote next Tuesday on alternative Brexit plans having rejected the deal Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the EU.

A British exit with no deal would automatically bar British boats from fishing in EU waters and EU boats from fishing off Britain.

The European Commission proposed two possible measures to reduce the impact. One would allow compensation for European fishermen who work in British waters now if they find themselves cut off after Brexit.

“This will help off-set some of the impact of a sudden closure of UK waters to EU fishing vessels in a no-deal scenario,” the Commission said in a statement.

The other proposal would pave the way to grant Britain access to EU fishing waters until the end of 2019, in return for Britain allowing EU fishermen into its waters.

“This proposal is limited to 2019,” the Commission said, adding it would aim to agree the two proposals with the European Parliament and the European Council, which represents all the bloc’s member states, and put them in place by Brexit day.

Brexit’s effect on fisheries is particularly important to France.

The bloc insists its no-deal preparations must be unilateral, time-limited and only seek to mitigate the most damaging disruptions that would be caused by the worst-case Brexit scenario so that the price of walking into it is high.

The EU wants to ensure continued air and road travel and transport, which it sees these as critical for its own businesses and security.

From stockpiling medicines to hiring customs officers, member states have stepped up their own preparations as well.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Peter Graff

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