The head of the European Union, Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he would have to accept the limit of access to the single market in exchange for greater control over fishing – or no deal.
His British counterpart described the talks as “blocked” by issuing a statement on Thursday night, with Barnier saying a deal could be reached if both sides “make a genuine effort”.
But, in a speech to the European Parliament on Friday, he gave the EU a clear assessment of the ultimatum, giving the EU: access to the EU’s single market open to British fishing waters from boats to boats Will be conditional on keeping.
He puts her on a collision course with Johnson, who on Thursday said negotiations would fail until the European Union would say its “not fair” stance on fish.
“If at any time the UK wants to cut access to these waters for European fishermen, the EU also has its sovereign right to react, or compensate, by adjusting the conditions for the products and specifically for fishery products Have to keep up. ” Market, ”said Barnier.
‘moment of truth’
The fishing industry has minimal economic impact – it accounts for just 0.1% of Britain’s GDP – but is of high political significance, with Johnson’s government seeing it as a symbol of national sovereignty.
By linking fishing to trade, the European Union is betting that Britain will provide European boats with better access to their waters in exchange for being able to trade with blocks in other areas.
“We are in a moment of truth,” Barnier told the European Parliament. “If we want a compromise we have very few hours left.”
Amid rhetoric, officials in Brussels expressed confidence that a deal could be reached even before next week. He said that dialogue is moving forward from behind the scenes and that such negative language is expected to occur at this level, both as a negotiation strategy and to manage expectations at home. Discussions continue and, by Friday morning, Johnson had softened his rhetoric.
‘the door is open’
“Our door is open, we’ll keep talking,” he said in a pool TV interview. “We hope that our EU friends will come to the table with some sense of self.”
Dozens of officials from both sides are in Brussels ready to finalize an agreement in the next 48 hours. Negotiations between Barnier and his British counterpart David Frost resumed around 3pm, soon after consultations with the capitals prepared by the French and their team to compromise on fishing.
On Thursday, Britain rejected the EU’s latest proposal: after a seven-year transition period, it catches around 23% of the fish in British waters. This marked movement on the European side – it had previously offered to offer up to 18% after the 10-year transition period – but still outstripped the British demand of 60% three years later.
Another major obstacle is the level competitive playing field for business. For months it was seen as a way that negotiations could break down and while the issue has not been fully resolved, according to officials on both sides, there are very close to a solution.
For a few weeks, Britain has objected to a waiver on the EU’s plan for central aid, including its 750 billion euro ($ 920 billion) pandemic relief package, according to a European Union official.
In a call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday, Johnson said the UK was “doing everything possible to accommodate reasonable EU requests on the playground, but even if the difference narrowed It was difficult in some basic areas. “
Johnson said the EU’s position on fisheries was “simply not fair and needed to be moved significantly if there was to be an agreement,” according to a statement from his office. “Britain could not accept a situation where it was the only sovereign country in the world not able to control access to its own waters for an extended period.”
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