Brexit eel wars: Brussels accuses Britain of being too green

By Jon Stone | 05/09/2024 12:29 PM EDT

Snaky fish fight is center stage as U.K.’s new environmental measures rub the EU the wrong way.

LONDON — When the U.K. left the EU, Brussels insisted on strict “level playing-field” rules as a check on Tories turning their country into a deregulated offshore tax haven.

But fast-forward to 2024 and it’s tougher new U.K. environmental measures that are increasingly rubbing the EU up the wrong way — at least when it comes to protecting sea life.

In March, irate French ministers asked the European Commission to investigate whether a ban on “bottom trawling” in protected marine areas — brought in on conservation grounds — breached the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the two countries.


And now the Commission has triggered a separate dispute under the TCA, questioning whether another U.K. conservation measure — a ban on the fishing of sand eels — breaches the terms of the trade agreement.