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EU Commission sets out Third Country rules

Published by FiskerForum, 10-04-2018 · info@fiskerforum.dk

The European Commission has issued a notice to stakeholders that sets out the situation regarding third countries, specifically noting that the UK will become a third country as of the 30th of March 2019. The Commission statement is a reminder of the four areas for which this will have particular consequences, notably for UK seafood exports to European markets.

‘Preparing for the withdrawal is not just a matter for EU and national authorities but also for private parties,’ the Commission states.

‘In view of the considerable uncertainties, in particular concerning the content of a possible withdrawal agreement, operators carrying out fishing activities and any of the activities related to any stage of production, processing, marketing, distribution and retail chains of fishery and aquaculture products are reminded of legal repercussions, which need to be considered when the United Kingdom becomes a third country. Subject to any transitional arrangement that may be contained in a possible withdrawal agreement, as of the withdrawal date, the Common fisheries policy rules no longer apply to the United Kingdom.’

The four areas identified are control and enforcement, landings and first sale of fishery products, import and export of fishery and aquaculture products and professional organisations.

While access for EU vessels to third country waters, and access for third country vessels to EU waters will become subject to a raft of authorisations and procedures, the implications are also clear for vessels wishing to land catches in EU ports and for seafood imports to the EU

‘Access to ports of EU Member States, including port services and the use of first-stage marketing installations, as well as the conduct of landing and transhipment operations in such ports shall be prohibited for vessels flying the flag of a third country unless they meet the requirements laid down in Section I of Chapter II of Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008. As of the withdrawal date, these rules will apply to United Kingdom vessels wishing to land in the Union,’ the EU Commission’s statement points out.

‘...In order to export fishery products caught by third country flagged fishing vessels to the EU, the Commission has to have received a notification from the flag State. As of the withdrawal date, this applies to the United Kingdom.’

Fish products will have to be accompanied by a catch certificate validated by the United Kingdom which must certify that the catches concerned have been made in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and international conservation and management measures. The catch certificate must have been validated by the United Kingdom competent authority and, when required, accompanied by other documents envisaged by the certification scheme in the event of an indirect import after transhipment, transit or processing of the products in another third country (Articles 14 and 19 of Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008).

Export of catches made by Union fishing vessels to the United Kingdom will also be subject to the catch certification scheme if the United Kingdom certifies to the European Commission by way of notification that it has in place relevant implementation, control and enforcement arrangements and public authorities empowered to verify certificates (Articles 15 and 20 of Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008).

Fishery and aquaculture products placed on the EU market are subject to specific market requirements, which include the specific consumer information requirements and marketing standards on fishery and aquaculture products.

The rules include also the prohibition to sell fish below the minimum conservation reference size for direct human consumption. Apart from these sector-specific requirements on the import and export of fishery and aquaculture products, the horizontal requirements in EU food law apply. These rules, be they sector-specific or horizontal, apply to all food placed on the EU market, independently of the place of production of the food.

As regards organic aquaculture, for products placed on the EU-27 market as of the withdrawal date, the certificates issued by control authorities and bodies in the United Kingdom are no longer valid.

As of the withdrawal date, producer organisations and inter-branch organisations recognised in the United Kingdom will no longer be considered professional organisations under EU law.

Source: EU Commission

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