HC Deb 01 February 1995 vol 253 c696W
Mr. David Nicholson

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at what date, and in what circumstances, qualified majority voting was agreed to by the United Kingdom Government for fisheries policy.

Mr. Jack

While the Community's market regime for fish and fish products has always been based on article 43 of the treaty, on United Kingdom accession regulation 2141/70 gave vessels of all member states, subject to certain limited derogations, the right to fish throughout all member states waters and was also based on article 235 which requires unanimity.

The UK accession treaty included a 10-year derogation from the provisions of regulation 2141/70. This enabled the UK to maintain a six-mile exclusive limit and impose certain restrictions in the six to 12 mile belt.

In 1976, regulation 2141/70 was replaced by regulation 101/76. This regulation's treaty base also included article 235. The regulation stated that in principle vessels of all member states should have equal access to the use of all fishing grounds within the fisheries limits of member states.

Later in 1976, the member states of the EC agreed to extend their fishery limits to 200 miles. The UK Government sought to extend the UK exclusive limit significantly, but a Council resolution, adopted in The Hague on 3 November 1976 about the creation of a 200 mile fishing zone in the Community, made no reference to this. The outcome of a European Court case in the early 1980s also suggested that, unless a decision to the contrary were taken, the principle of "free access to waters" came into force at the end of the period specified in the accession treaty.

This was the background to the negotiations on the CFP regulations which were formally adopted at the beginning of 1983. These regulations substantially reduced other member states' access to waters within the UK six to 12 mile belt, while continuing their total exclusion from the six mile belt, and also provided for the Shetland box. Regulation 170/83 was the principal regulation and was based on article 43.

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