Following the EU Commission’s decision today to take legal action against the UK for breaching important parts of the Brexit deal for Northern Ireland, and as this may directly affect the Scottish salmon sector, we asked Salmon Scotland’s CEO for his views. “We urge the UK Government to find a political solution that maintains vital trade deals”, was Tavish Scott’s response to WeAreAquaculture. “Exporters simply cannot afford a return to checks and delays at the channel”, he said. The European Union decision comes after the UK government tabled legislation last Monday to unilaterally amend that agreement.[tds_partial_locker tds_locker_id=”24891″]
Not a step back
This is not the first time that Scott has addressed Boris Johnson’s government. Just over a month ago, the CEO of Salmon Scotland sent a letter to the Prime Minister showing his concern about a possible ‘trade war’ with the European Union. In it, he highlighted, among other things, the considerable effort made by the sector to adapt to the new export requirements following the pandemic and Brexit. “We’ve only just got exports back to where they were before the pandemic and we need to do everything possible to protect that progress”, he told us.
As a result of that hard work, exports of Scottish salmon to Europe are now higher than ever. “Two-thirds of all salmon exports go to the European Union, making it our largest and most important market by far”, Tavish Scott told WeAreAquaculture, which translated into figures was worth £372 million last year.
Time for cooperation
“At a time of rising costs and concern about food security, the last thing our farmers and the country needs is a trade war with our partners in Europe”, Scott said. These statements are quite in line with those of the Vice-President of the EU Commission, Maroš Šefčovič, who at this morning’s press conference said that this UK bill “has created deep uncertainty and casts a shadow over our overall cooperation”. “All at a time when respect for international agreements has never been more important”, he added.
Opposite, the UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, argued that her proposal is a reasonable and practical solution to the problems facing Northern Ireland. “It will safeguard the EU Single Market and ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland”, she said and added that “as the government of the whole United Kingdom, it is our duty to take the necessary steps to preserve peace and stability”. Not so Tavish Scott who, as we said at the beginning, believes that exporters cannot afford to go back to controls and delays in the channel.