While Madrid announced that it has reached a deal with the UK on issues regarding the future of Gibraltar, the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia continued to face up to an uncomfortable Brexit fallout.
Alfonso Rueda, vice president of the Xunta, stressed to the Galician regional parliament the importance of “adopting an active role to defend Galician interests and the interests of Galicians citizens in light of Brexit,” according to a recent statement. The Xunta, the regional government, emphasized that the local fishing sector is particularly exposed.
The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU and restrict access to its waters for European fishing vessels could have a huge impact on Spanish fishing operators in the northwestern autonomous region of Galicia.
More than two thirds of the Spanish fishing fleet operating in British waters are registered in Galicia: 66 out of 96, according to a study commissioned by the University of Santiago de Compostela titled ‘The economic impact of Brexit on Galician fishing.’
The Galician fleet which fishes in the Sole Bank, a maritime area off Cornwall, could lose €533 million annually based on current catch and revenues, estimates the study.
A large number of Galicians also live in the UK and the Xunta is keen to lure home its citizens.
The Galician government has set aside €235 million for more more than 50 incentives to convince Galicians to return to their land of origin as part of The 2020 Return Strategy. As of January 2018, 14,369 Galicians were resident in the UK, reports Galician local daily La Voz de Galicia.
“The 2020 Return Strategy aims to be an alternative to the distrust generated by the current situation and a desire to return to Galicia, where you always have your place,” said Antonio Rodríguez Miranda, the regional government’s foreign minister, at a meeting with Galicians residents in London last summer, according to La Voz de Galicia.
The government had already presented a study to parliament on the impact Brexit could have on the Galician economy in 2017.
The Xunta’s recent statement pointed to a 2018 Memorandum of Understanding with Wales “to try and mitigate the effects” of Brexit. That agreement signed in June 2018 envisioned collaboration in economic, social and cultural fields.
Galicia is hoping its charm offensive on Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones could help alleviate any consequences for the Galician fishing fleet in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
At least 110 vessels, 96 companies and 1700 crew in Galicia could be hit by a hard Brexit, according to a study commissioned by the Galician government.