The Faroese government has hit back at EU plans to slap a trade embargo on the islands, accusing the European Commission of ignoring diplomatic channels and contravening WTO rules.
On Wednesday, the EU’s Committee for Fisheries and Aquaculture voted in favour of a Commission proposal to adopt trade measures against the Faroe Islands for alleged overfishing of Atlanto-Scandian herring.
If the Commission gives the green light – as it is expected to do later this month – sanctions are likely be put in place shortly afterwards.
In a statement to The Grocer today, Jacob Vestergaard, minister of fisheries of the Faroe Islands, said he was concerned that one of the Faroes’ closest neighbours was ready to apply sanctions instead of sitting at the negotiation table “as a good neighbour”.
“What we have learned to our dismay is a Commission which ignores both diplomatic dialogue and the negotiation table and rather finds coercive economic measures as the only initiative”
“What we have learned to our dismay is a Commission which ignores both diplomatic dialogue and the negotiation table and rather finds coercive economic measures as the only initiative.”
It was his belief that diplomatic dialogue between countries - rather than controversial means such as trade sanctions - was the only way to find a proper solution to the disagreement over herring fishing, he added.
Sanctions could include restrictions on imports into the EU of Atlanto-Scandian herring or mackerel caught under the control of the Faroe Islands, and/or the use of EU ports by Faroes-flagged vessels that fish for Atlanto-Scandian herring and mackerel.
Vestergaard admitted that such sanctions might hurt the Faroes in the short term but in the medium and long term, it would export to other markets.
He added that although the Faroes had not yet made any formal complaint to the WTO, it was his “clear intention” to do so.
“Such sanctions are inconsistent with WTO law as well as our bilateral free trade agreement and should be treated as such,” he said.
The European Commission said it had no comment to make in response to Vestergaard.