Tuesday, 29 January 2013

How many times does one have to say it?

The Common Fisheries Policy is a big part of the problem. The reason is obvious: it is a centralized decision-making process that involves twenty-seven countries, many of whom do not have a vested interest, and a great deal of political bargaining. Proposed delegation to local and regional bodies will not change the basic principle as these decisions will still be taken within the framework provided centrally. Only by exiting from the CFP and adopting our own policies that will take meaningful decision making further down the chain can the situation be salvaged. (Here is one possible plan to follow.)

At the Davos Conference this was voiced clearly by the President of Iceland.

Iceland's president has dismissed the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy as a "colossal failure" as some 75% of Europe's fish stock is endangered.

The policy sets quotas for each of the 27 member states and for types of fish.

"Europe is the problem," Olafur Ragnar Grimsson said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"It is paradoxical that Europeans see themselves as the most enlightened policy makers in the world," he added.

Problems with fish stocks are present in many parts of the world but none so serious as in the seas around the European Union.

Only two countries in Europe have been managing their fisheries in a sustainable fashion - Iceland and Norway, Mr Grimsson claimed, pointing out that neither is a member of the European Union.

But whereas he was concerned about the future of the oceans that are so important to his country, he also said there were reasons to be optimistic about the future.

Fish caught in a sustainable manner can be labelled electronically, so modern technology, such as mobile telephones or smartphones, have now made it possible for consumers to check exactly where the fish they buy comes from, he says.

Technology that accurately maps the movement of all boats also exists, and it costs less than $100 per boat, Mr Grimsson said, insisting it should be compulsory for boats to be kitted out with such kit before leaving port, the way an aircraft is not allowed to take off without the correct instruments on board.

What are the chances of anything of that kind being even discussed, let alone adopted under the CFP?

Friday, 25 January 2013

The official FAL response

Here is the official response by FAL to David Cameron's speech and oddly enough it agrees with the previous posting with additional comments that are especially relevant to Scotland.

Comment by FAL on David Cameron’s Speech on the EU

Talk about a new settlement, a new relationship with Europe or more correctly with the EU is, not to put too fine a point on it, stuff and nonsense. The reason is the existence in EU law of the “acquis communautaire” - the entire body of EU laws, including all the Treaties, Regulations and Directives passed by the Institutions, as well as judgements laid down by the Court of Justice.

The “acquis” which is not negotiable is the major requirement that drives negotiations when new nations are applying for membership of the EU. The UK had to accept it when it became a member of the EEC in 1972. It had to embrace and enforce every vestige of the “acquis” before it became a member, because all previous members had agreed to obey and implement it in full. There are derogations but these are all time limited and have a date of expiry before they are agreed. They can be rolled over.

The “acquis” for fisheries is free access to waters on a non discriminatory basis for all member states fleets (access to resources being based on the principle of relative stability for regulated species, and unrestricted for non-regulated species). 

 Mr Cameron has said:

“And to those who say a new settlement can't be negotiated, I would say listen to the views of other parties in other European countries arguing for powers to flow back to European states. And look too at what we have achieved already....... Ending Britain's obligation to bail out eurozone members. Launching a process to return some existing justice and home affairs powers. And reforming fisheries policy. So we are starting to shape the reforms we need now. Some will not require treaty change.”

However not only is Britain not opting out of any common justice and home affairs policies, it is busy opting in wherever there had been an opt-out negotiated.

Furthermore there is no reform of the real EU fisheries policy which is stark and simple and is clearly defined in the acquis --Community fishing vessels shall have equal access to waters and resources in all Community waters outside 12 nautical miles from the baselines. 

Talk about reform is a con trick perpetuating the deceit which has led to our fishermen being integrated in to the establishment of a single EU fleet on the principle of non-discrimination.

After centuries of environmentally benign exploitation and husbanding of resources, Scotland’s fishing industry has been devastated by ideological intervention, mismanagement and overfishing by the European Union. The result has been the loss of 100,000 jobs and an annual loss of more than £1,500 million per year to Scotland’s economy. There should be complete withdrawal from this Brussels-controlled lunacy.

And as for Alex Salmond If he wins the Independence within the EU referendum in Scotland, it will be very interesting to see how he gets rid of the non negotiable acquis on fisheries.

Roddy McColl
For FAL Secretaries 
23 January 2013

For those of our readers who want to read the Prime Minister's speech in full, here is the link. You might wish to skip numerous paragraphs. One has to admit sorrowfully that, despite getting the best education this country can provide, Mr Cameron's knowledge of European and even British history is shaky.

Let us pass on to other matters. The biggest one is the tentative, for it is no more than that, promise of a referendum in 2017, assuming the Conservatives win the 2015 election and conditional, or maybe not, on some renegotiations and repatriation of powers.

This is a little difficult for, as Mary-Ellen Synon points out trenchantly in the Spectator, as things stand there is no method whereby powers can be repatriated. That includes fisheries. We cannot negotiate them back. We can, however, announce that we are activating Article 50 of the Treaties, and negotiate a new deal on the basis of that. This, the Prime Minister does not seem to want to do because, as he says himself, his preference is to stay inside the EU.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Fisheries and democracy

Here is a characteristically outspoken letter by Tom Hay, Honorary Chairman of FAL, published in the December 21 issue of eurofacts.

 Dear Sir, 

 I am fed up with David Cameron. I have read today that he is now saying, we must be at the heart of Europe otherwise it will be disastrous for the UK. What a downright lie. He should ake a look at the British white fish fleet. No aspect of the United Kingdom’s suicidal involvement with the European Union is more flagrant than the downright treachery, and lies which has brought about the deliberate destruction of our white fish fleet. 

What about democracy? Democracy means the people are free, and the free people choose their rulers, and the rulers rule according to the wishes of the people - that is true democracy. Yet the notion exists that democracy means putting your cross down on a piece of paper, after which those elected, become the dictators of those who elected them. 

This it appears is the view taken by David Cameron, since the last thing he wants to know is the will of the British people. Of course it was his Party which took us into this mess in the first place. In 1972 the Conservative Administration took us into what we were deceived into believing was just a “common market”, and agreed in the European Communities Act 1972, to allow EC law now (EU law) to take precedence over British law. 

Surely that must have been very close to, if not altogether an Act of Treason against the state, since the constraints of the British Constitution doesn’t permit any transfer of sovereignty to a foreign power for five minutes, far less for 40 years. 

Furthermore this treacherous action has resulted in the British people being made subordinate political serfs to an alien foreign power, and perpetuates this by insisting that we remain in political servitude to it. The public trust in our politicians and civil servants does not permit them to undermine with utter contempt the constraints of the British Constitution by which they are legally bound. By doing so however, they are making an absolute mockery of all the human sacrifice that went into creating, and defending it in the first place. 

The British people demand that their voice must be heard, and every vestige of sovereignty which has been deceitfully surrendered to Brussels, returned to the British Parliament as speedily as possible. 

We have had enough of it David Cameron’s way! 


All very true but the chances of this government listening are slim.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Excitement in vacuum

First of all, happy new year to all our readers. We think this may turn into quite an interesting year from our point of view.

There is quite a lot of excitement in vacuum or vacuous excitement about what the Prime Minister might or might not say in his long-deferred speech about Britain and what is usually referred to in the media as Europe but is, in fact, the European Union, a political construct not a geographical or cultural concept.

Before we discuss what has been said recently about what might or might not be in that speech (and at present nobody outside the PM's office knows) or what the consequences will be, it is worth pointing out yet again a basic fact: talk about "our relationship with Europe or with the EU" is, not to put too fine a point on it, stuff and nonsense. We do not have a relationship with something we are a member of. Only if we come out and renegotiate all agreements do we start having a relationship.

Now that's out of the way, let us turn to what has been said recently and find out if any of it is of any relevance to real life and real people.

First off, we have an article in the Guardian, a newspaper that thinks being outside the EU is the equivalent of political perdition though rather a large number of countries seem to manage to survive and even flourish.

Cameron, we are told, promises that the people of Britain will have a real choice though we have to wait till his speech some time this month to find out whether that means an In/Out referendum. Does that mean he intends to come up with some policies with regards to our membership of the European Union and fight an election on those? That would be preferable to a plebiscite (the old-fashioned word for a referendum). Errm, maybe.

Asked whether that could involve the option of withdrawal, he said: "You will have to wait for the speech.

"But it will demonstrate very clearly that it is the Conservative party at the next election that will be offering people a real change in terms of Europe and a real choice about that change."

He conceded that any renegotiation would be tough but said it was not in Britain's national interest to withdraw and no longer be "round the table writing the rules".

In actual fact, we are not round the table and we do not write the rules as the messy situation with the Common Fisheries Policy shows very clearly. The rules are written by the Commission and decided by 27 member states, usually through qualified majority voting and Britain's views and interests are of little importance.

Anyway, we have little indication from those statements what exactly will be in the speech. One cannot help suspecting that the PM does not know either and his speech writers are flummoxed.

Meanwhile, Gideon Rachman proclaims in the Financial Times that, despite all the many problems and dissatisfactions, Britain, given a chance, would vote to stay in the European Union. Mr Rachman and the FT's optimistic predictions about the EU and the eurozone in the past were not such as to inspire great faith in his analysis but, as things stand, he is probably right. The referendum is likely to be called (if at all) after some cosmetic agreements of change just as it was in 1975. There will be a great deal of money spent on the  in campaign beyond the allotted state funds and, above all, the message will be simple: fear. Our side has not lined up its arguments and is too busy squandering meagre resources and that must change. We must lay out clearly how we should get out of this noxious organization which we cannot reform as we have never been able to and what we shall do afterwards.

In the Daily Telegraph we get Daniel Hannan, a self-appointed spokesman for the mythical eurosceptic David Cameron as well as a Conservative though eurosceptic MEP, arguing that if we cannot do a deal with "Europe" we should get out. That's as far as he goes though he appears to think that the original idea of the EEC was a free market area. It was not. The idea was at all times a customs union with "ever closer union of the people".

Mr Hannan is convinced that Mr Cameron will come up with some very tough proposals and because the colleagues in Brussels will not like them he will have to go for an In/Out referendum and, indeed, campaign for out. There are many logical flaws in that chain of arguments.

At least this article mentions fisheries.

Let’s start with the easy bits. Britain has already announced its intention to opt out of common policies in the field of justice and home affairs. It is almost as straightforward to pull out of joint defence and foreign policy structures.

Leaving the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and asserting our jurisdiction out to 200 miles or the median line, is tougher, but not unprecedented: until a decade ago, the CFP didn’t apply to the Mediterranean. As for the Common Agricultural Policy, the shift from guaranteed prices to direct support makes repatriation increasingly feasible.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Not only is Britain not opting out of any common justice and home affairs policies, it is busy opting in wherever there had been an opt-out negotiated.

In fact, pulling out of the CFP would be the easiest and most popular thing to do. In fact, that was the premiss of a paper produced some years ago by the then Shadow Fisheries Minister, Owen Paterson, which was adopted by Michael Howard, the then Leader of the Conservative Party as electoral policy.

What happened to it? Well, Mr Howard lost the election and resigned. His successor, a certain David Cameron, discarded that policy almost as his first act as Leader. For some reason, Mr Hannan does not mention this.