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Ireland - no substance in EU talks




McConalogue’s efforts at the EU table can be described by the song ‘You say it best when you say nothing at all…..’



Editorial Comment

Cormac Burke, IFSA


Following yesterday’s EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Ireland’s DAFM minister released a press statement on how he had “highlighted some of the key issues to be considered in the upcoming evaluation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)”.


Making lots of the ‘right noises’ (from an EU perspective) McConalogue launched several sound bytes such as: “this evaluation must pay particular attention to the impact on the EU and Member States’ fishing opportunities as a result of the quota transfers under the Trade and Co-operation Agreement, as well as the impact of the unilateral actions of Third Countries within the Coastal States framework” but, most notably, not once did he use the words ‘Irish fishermen’ or ‘the Irish fishing industry’.


Indeed, aside from one brief reference to Irish processors in the final line of his statement, it seems blatantly clear that the Minister was speaking from a point of “WE, the EU Member States” rather than “WE, the IRISH fishing industry”.


One could go so far as to say that it appears that the carefully chosen words of his script was written by the EU Commission’s press office rather than by anyone who had the slightest notion of what crisis the Irish fishing industry is in - his script could have been read out by any one of the other nations’ fisheries ministers and it would have sounded the exact same.


This attempt to be seen as the ‘diplomatic statesman’ is probably to be expected for someone who was speaking in the presence of those that he hopes might be his next employers, but from Ireland’s perspective it is simply not good enough that here was the opportunity for Ireland to bang its fist on the table and say “enough is enough” and highlight Ireland’s crisis that, as the nation who has suffered the most under the current CFP, suffered the most as a result of the EU/UK Brexit deal, and continues to suffer the most under EU ‘deals’ with Third Countries, Ireland DEMANDS some consideration and genuine ‘level playing field’ justice in any possible re-evaluation of the Common Fisheries Policy.


If you’re the fisheries minister representing your nation at high level EU fisheries talks then surely you must put forward a passionate argument regarding the plight of your nation’s inshore, demersal and pelagic fishing industry and demonstrate the fact that the Irish fishing fleet and Irish fishermen are in a downward spiral due to lack of quotas as a direct result of a totally unbalanced CFP which is operated and driven by the EU, and not come out with cliches such as:


we need to consider how this allows for opportunities to strengthen the economic link between the EU fleet and EU processors in order to build reliance for the entire supply chain and secure a sustainable economic future for the sector.”


Or


there is a need for a comprehensive and integrated North East Atlantic Fisheries Strategy for external fishery agreements which take into account, where appropriate, access to the EU Single market.”


Much the same as saying for the past two years that you are “monitoring the situation” regarding the fuel subsidy for fishing vessels that all of the EU fleet are receiving (except Ireland); or telling the inshore sector who are in an unprecedented desperate crisis that “support measures are on the way” (but refusing to discuss what these measures might be and will they in fact be of any use to this sector), Charlie McConalogue’s apparent pro EU rather than pro Ireland stance at this week’s EU summit highlights why Ireland never achieves any fair play, never mind a hint of success on the European level - - weak representation with ‘other agendas’ in play.


God help us all


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