One of the main sticking points in ongoing trade negotiations between the UK and Brussels remains fishing rights, with David Frost firmly standing his ground on a demand for a zonal attachment system while the EU is urging a compromise. EU diplomats have mentioned the possibility of Brussels slapping sanctions on Britain in other areas of trade if European trawlers were kicked out of UK seas.
One EU source has suggested that it would be in Britain’s interests to bow to the bloc’s pressure.
They said: “It’s a big ask for the EU and it’s not such a big give for the UK, because in the end it’s access to waters for access to markets.
“You can’t eat fish in the morning, the evening, and at night.”
An anonymous diplomat told The Telegraph: “There is a clear interest on the UK side, because their fleet won’t even be able to fish as much as is now being fished in UK waters, and the majority of their fish products exported to the internal market.”
On Wednesday, France’s new European affairs minister warned that President Macron “will not accept a deal at any price.”
Clement Beaune said France would be “intransigent” on fishing, and would not be “intimidated” by Britain in the negotiation “game”.
France is one of the coastal states that has pushed hardest for EU fishermen to keep the right to fish in British waters after a transition period ends at the end of this year.
Britons took to social media to voice their amusement at France’s tough line.
Britain and the European Union clashed last week over the chances of securing a free trade agreement, with Brussels deeming it “unlikely”.
But the UK’s team of negotiators, led by Mr Frost, is still holding out hope one could be reached in September.
However, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier privately expressed a more optimistic view of the chances of a trade deal.
According to diplomatic sources, he told a meeting of national envoys that a deal remains possible.
On Wednesday it emerged that the EU is no longer seeking a Belfast office to oversee its trade relations with Northern Ireland.
Cabinet minister Michael Grove previously ruled out a request to monitor special arrangements keeping the region in line with EU rules after Brexit.
Time is running out for a free trade deal to be sealed with Europe before the end of this year, Stormont civil servant Dr Andrew McCormick said.
He added: “The Commission are no longer pressing for a representational office in Belfast.
“What they are asking for is sufficient and proportional oversight.”
Published at Wed, 29 Jul 2020 20:58:00 +0000