EU Business, that is completely pro-EU in all its vagaries, reports that there will be not cut-backs on the subsidies handed out to France, Portugal and, especially, Spain for the "modernization" of their fishing fleet. These subsidies have been handed out for several decades. One would think that by now all the fleets have been "modernized". Apparently not. Apparently, while quotas are being cut back and fishermen of other countries are encouraged to sell off their boats, these fleets will grow and grow at the European Union taxpayers' expense. What would we do without the Common Fisheries Policy?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Well, no, we are not out of the EU

There seems to be some strange consensus being built up among Conservative and Conservative-leaning commentators that the UK is effectively out of the European Union for reasons that are rather hard to define.

Andrew Lilico wrote on Conservative Home

There will be a referendum on our EU Membership even if Ed Miliband wins the next General Election. And even if there weren't, we would still be out of the EU regardless of whether we still officially held an EU membership card. Our EU membership, in the terms we have understood it up to now, is over.

Get-out-ers seem to have been even slower to grasp that and its implications than have the Cameroons (who are still pitifully behind the play). We are leaving the EU, one way or another. That isn't in doubt; it isn't the issue; and it's barely worth debating. Given that I didn't want us to leave, I might occasionally indulge in some recriminations over whose fault it is that we're leaving, but that's not the interesting question.

Whether we are leaving the EU is highly questionable as no particular plan has been proposed or even discussed officially. Even more questionable is the assertion that our membership "in the terms we have understood it up to now, is over".

Exactly, what has changed? Are we not still legally bound to obey the legislation in all its forms that emanates from Brussels? Do we not still pay over large amounts of money with more being demanded in the budget under discussion? Are we not part of the CAP, the CFP, the European Arrest Warrant (EWA) and many other alphabet institutions?

Today we get the same tune from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the Daily Telegraph, whose headline says: Britain has left the European Union in all but name. All the above questions need to be asked and all the implied objections apply.

Mr Evans-Pritchard is assuring us that we are preparing to withdraw from vast amounts of legislation to do with the Third Pillar, that is law and justice. Well, no, not as such. So far, we have had a great deal of talk about not opting into some of the legislation from which opt-outs have been negotiated though this government has already opted in unnecessarily in a few cases. There is no sign whatsoever that the country will pull out of anything like the European Arrest Warrant or the European Investigation Order, which the government quietly and without telling anybody much opted in.

Periodically we get noises from Ministers who suddenly "discover" after a good many years that yes, indeed, EU rules do apply, have applied and will apply until we come out and negotiate a completely different agreement. We also get noises about how much this particular government has managed to save from the EU or, much more frequently, how much it will save any minute now. Been there, done that, ever since John Major's "game, set and match" over Maastricht.

There is a litmus test that needs to be applied whenever a government, a political party or its acolytes in the media start making statements of that kind: what are they saying about the fisheries policy? As long as this country's fisheries are run by the EU through the CFP we are not out of the EU nor are we heading out.

Friday, 12 October 2012

We assume ...

... that the risible award of the Nobel Peace Prize to one of the most corrupt, inefficient, undemocratic organizations, the European Union, had nothing to do with its self-appointed stewardship of the environment, particularly the seas and the fish therein.

It is interesting to note that among the various countries and organizations that are disconcerted by this decision (though, really, what can one expect from that committee?) is Norwary itself. Its people voted twice to stay out of the European Union but the dubious politician and President of the Peace Prize Committee, Thorbjørn Jagland, is known to favour Norwegian membership of the EU (despite or, perhaps, because the country is doing rather well outside it) and, in its true democratic style would like either to have another referendum and ensure that this time the Norwegians vote the right way or to start negotiations without asking the people.

Needless to say, one reason  why the Norwegians want to stay outside the EU is that they prefer to control their own fisheries.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


There are at present three open consultations at the Food Standards Agency to do with fish labelling and we thought some of our readers might be interested. They are the same consultation really but separate documents need to be issued for all the devolved legislatures, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The one for England will probably follow tomorrow.

The Scottish one will do as well as the others. As ever it explains who the consultation is for and what the purpose is:

These Regulations will introduce new consumer information and traceability requirements as set out in the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) Control Regulations (EC) No 1224/2009 and (EU) No 404/2011, and will continue to provide for the consumer information and traceability requirements of the Common Organisation of the Markets in Fishery and Aquaculture Products (CMO) Regulations (EC) No 104/2000 and (EC) No 2065/2001 (as currently provided for in the Fish Labelling (Scotland) Regulations 2010 which will be revoked).

Readers with interest in the subject may as well go to the real legislation: Council Regulation (EC) No. 1224/2009 that establishes "establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the common fisheries policy" or Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 404/2011 of 8 April 2011 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy. After all, the consultation is merely about the best way of implementing these regulations.

The days of packed fringe meetings at party conferences about the CFP are in the past but will, we hope, be revived. In the meantime, some people who are either going to the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham (the only one at which there are any discussions of the EU and Britain's membership at all) or just happen to be in that city or its vicinity next week might be interested in the following.

There will be, as in the last couple of years, a Freedom Zone, outside the security one, at which people can meet and discuss matters outside the officially sanctioned programme. Two particular events seem interesting. At 4 pm on Tuesday, October 9 there will be a debate between Conservatives and UKIP about who the real eurosceptics are. Most of us know the Conservative record on, say, matters to do with fishing. Nevertheless, the debate should be very interesting.

On the preceding day at 5.15pm there is a drinks reception at which Brian Binley MP and the economist Ruth Lea will discuss Britain and Europe - a new relationship. It might be worth noting ahead of this discussion, should any of our readers would want to attend and contribute that Europe is not a political phenomenon. The European Union is and we do not have a relationship with it any more than Cornwall has a relationship with the UK. We are part of it and that is that for the time being.

The answer to that might be proffered at another fringe meeting, that of the Bruges Group, at 2pm on Monday, October 8. The title is How Britain Can Exit the EU and it will be interesting to hear what two MPs of two parties who are committed to staying in will have to say on the matter. The third speaker is Tim Congdon, the distinguished economist and member of UKIP.