Barnier risks mutiny as Brussels states fear EU chief ready to CAVE to secure Brexit deal

Barnier risks mutiny as Brussels states fear EU chief ready to CAVE to secure Brexit deal

The Brussels diplomat is set for a grilling on Wednesday morning when he meets with EU27 ambassadors to discuss the state of play in the wrangling over a future relationship pact. Some member states are concerned Mr Barnier’s refusal to reveal exact details from the trade talks mean he could be about to lose his nerve as time runs out to reach an agreement. Brussels sources have revealed President Emmanuel Macron is one of the most nervous that the tussle over post-Brexit fishing rights could spell bad news for France’s fishing industry.

An insider told “The main question is will what Barnier and Frost negotiate stand up in capitals?

“States are becoming more nervy as they receive less information from the talks.”

EU diplomats and officials believe significant concessions would have to be made to get a Brexit trade deal over the line given the current deadlock over fishing rights and state aid rules.

Mr Barnier last week warned the “significant divergences” between the two sides was blocking any progress in the trade talks.

The source added: “To make that gap some large concessions are required and it remains to be seen whether some EU capitals are going to sell those back home.”

Mr Barnier will be forced to field difficult questions when he holds his meeting with the EU27 envoys on Wednesday morning.

The Frenchman will be expected to deliver a “clear message” to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that the bloc should not cave in to secure a deal.

UK and EU sources have dismissed positive reports that an agreement could be struck before the end of the week.

Speaking at a joint news conference, the French President said: “Our two countries are among the most concerned by a Brexit we didn’t choose. We are particularly vigilant on the level playing field, today and in the future, and the question of fishing.

“The preservation of the activities of our fishermen in British waters is an essential condition, the fair rules of the market in the future are equal.

“On the subject of Brexit our position has been constant – a deal must allow for a fair future relationship and France won’t accept a deal that doesn’t that doesn’t respect our interests in the future.”

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At the news conference in Paris, Mr De Croo said: “On Brexit, we didn’t want it. A deal is important but naturally not at all costs, and to keep a fair economic position between the EU and the UK, that’s clearly the important element for us.

“But it’s clear when one is all the same in the last minute of a football match, a decisive goal can happen in the last minute as well as the first minute. 

“But we are all the same in a moment where we really must see if it’s possible to advance and to get a deal which is fair.”

Their outbursts followed a complaint by Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove that the EU was making “unfair” demands on the issue.

Mr Gove, the minister in charge of contingency preparations for a no deal end to the negotiations, said: “The EU still want to take the lion’s share of the fishing in our waters, which is just not fair given that we are leaving the EU.

“The EU still want us to be tied to their way of doing things.

“What happens if there is a dispute? The EU are at the moment reserving the right, if there is any sort of dispute, to not quite rip everything up but really to impose some quite penal and tough restrictions on us, and we don’t think that’s fair.”

Published at Wed, 02 Dec 2020 00:00:00 +0000