EU-UK fishing opportunities and authorisations if no agreement is reached 

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Plenary session 

On Friday, MEPs approved the Commission’s proposal to extend current fisheries authorisations, based on reciprocal access to EU and UK waters after 31 December 2020.

The proposal was adopted by 677 votes in favour, 4 against and 6 abstentions. The European Union provides the possibility for EU and United Kingdom vessels to have continued reciprocal access to each other’s waters, if both sides agree, after 31 December 2020 and until a fisheries agreement with the United Kingdom has been concluded.

The amendments to the existing regulation on the sustainable management of external fishing fleets would enable both EU and UK vessels to continue to fish in each other’s waters after the end of the transition period, provided that the UK grants reciprocal access rights. UK vessels would therefore be allowed to fish in EU waters. Once it has obtained the authorisation, a UK vessel must still comply with the rules governing the fishing operations of EU vessels in the fishing area in which it operates.

The regulation now approved will come into force on 1 January 2021. It will apply until 31 December 2021 or the date on which an agreement governing fisheries between the EU and the UK enters into force or provisionally applies.


The Common Fisheries Policy will no longer apply to and in the United Kingdom after the transition period, which ends on 31 December 2020. The proposal aims to avoid considerable delays and increased administrative burden caused by the absence of an agreement on fisheries.

The granting of authorisations is subject to the principle of "reciprocity", i.e. on condition that the United Kingdom extends access rights for EU vessels to conduct fishing activities in United Kingdom waters. Consequently, authorisations will only be granted if and to the extent that the United Kingdom provides authorisations for EU vessels to make use of fishing opportunities allocated to them.