Fisheries stand-off threatens Brexit talks as stubborn EU still refuses to drop demands

Fisheries stand-off threatens Brexit talks as stubborn EU still refuses to drop demands

Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel insisted the bloc remains united with its fishing states despite the looming prospect of a no-deal Brexit. And his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte was also standing firm, insisting the EU will not accept a deal at any price. EU leaders yesterday said they were concerned with the progress in the trade talks with Britain “was still not sufficient for an agreement”.

They blocked Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, from intensifying the process until Boris Johnson agrees to compromise.

The dramatic developments came after Emmanuel Macron convinced the bloc to significantly harden its demands for continued access to Britain’s fishing grounds.

Mr Johnson will now decide whether to walk away from the wrangling in a statement later today.

In Brussels, Mr Bettel today said: “We stand in solidarity with the countries for which fishing is important as any other subject can be important as well.

“We are waiting for Boris Johnson’s reaction today. You can’t put one single thing on a scale.

“We have fisheries and they have access to our market. The scale must be balanced. We can’t have winners and losers here.”

Mr Conte said the EU wants to still avoid a no-deal scenario in the coming weeks.

He insisted the bloc would continue working beyond any deadlines set by Mr Johnson in order to strike a deal.

The situation is very complex and we have a few days to conclude this agreement,” Mr Conte said.

“Only a few weeks left, but we are united. The member states are united. We want a deal. We will work until the last moment for that, but we do not want an agreement at any price.

“We are very serious about this. We want equal conditions and effective governance. This negotiation could have a positive or a negative result, but we want to avoid a negative one.”

Despite the looming threat of a British walkout in the Brexit talks, Irish premier Micheal Martin said a deal is still possible.

Published at Fri, 16 Oct 2020 08:52:00 +0000