How will Brexit affect Europe’s maritime regions?

Michel Barnier © Toms Norde, Valsts kanceleja
Michel Barnier © Toms Norde, Valsts kanceleja

The Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) has met with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, to try to mitigate the impact on maritime regions.

The meeting was held in collaboration with the Atlantic Arc Commission (AAC), to allow both organisations to present the concerns of their members that a hard Brexit could have harmful consequences for their regions.

Ahead of the meeting, the delegation welcomed the UK’s commitment to continued co-operation with the EU on research and innovation, and implored both parties to demonstrate that territorial cooperation is also high on the agenda.

What did the delegation propose?

Among the proposals were the need to establish territorial co-operation programmes and macro-regional strategies to allow the UK and Europe to continue to work together. So far, such a consideration has been absent from negotiations.

The delegation also reinforced that Brexit negotiations should include discussion of the ports and shipping lines of the Atlantic Arc. The effect Brexit could have on ports and shipping lines could have a significant impact on tourism and trade sectors throughout Europe, and the CPMR recommended the implementation of a budgetary mechanism for the EU27 to mitigate potential territorial impacts.

The final Brexit deal will also need an agreement on the shared management of the fisheries sector in the Atlantic, Channel and North Sea areas. The delegation warned that the sector is at risk of social, economic and ecological damage if it not effectively managed.

What challenges does Brexit pose to maritime regions?

Bruno Retailleau, the former President of the AAC, warned that if the UK and the EU do not continue to work together in maritime regions, they could end up in unfair competition with each other.

He said: “The renationalisation of the UK’s territorial waters following Brexit would have a major impact on the fishing activity of Atlantic vessels. It could also mean UK fishermen are not subject to the requirements of the Common Fisheries Policy after Brexit, leading to unfair competition.”

Brexit could also cause constraints on flows of citizens and goods across the channel, which could have a wide-ranging impact on transport, trade and tourism, added current AAC President Christelle Morançais.

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