Talks between the EU and UK has ended without coming to agreement on the core subjects including the future of post-Brexit fisheries
Two weeks of intense negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom has ended without agreement on the core subjects of the level-playing field, governance and fisheries.
Both sides have agreed that progress has been made but “divergences” or even “serious divergences” remain over these areas, but without much details on the talks being released over the past two weeks, it is difficult for onlookers to engage too deeply with the issues at the negotiating table.
Yesterday, EU officials down-played reports of a breakthrough on the issue of fisheries in the negotiations.
Dan Ferrie, the EU’s chief negotiator’s spokesperson said “We have not yet found a solution on fisheries.
“We are working for a stable, sustainable and long-term agreement on fisheries, enabling the UK to further develop its fishing activities while ensuring the sustainable use of resources and protecting the fishing opportunities of European fishermen and women.”
This week Bloomberg reported that the UK and EU were close to an agreement on fisheries in the Brexit future relationship negotiations but with several rumours of several deals being on the table, none of them, if real, have borne fruit.
A main sticking point for the negotiators is French President Emmanuel Macron’s promise to the fishermen of France which means the EU is stuck with a mandate some Member States wish to diverge from the mandate agreed at the start of the Brexit talks.
Macron has vowed not to “sacrifice” French fishermen for the sake of a Brexit free trade agreement. This has been echoed by Michel Barnier but is it more for a show for EU cohesion rather than being a long-term commitment. The French Europe Minister Clement Beaune told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday that he believed an agreement on fisheries and the other stumbling blocks was possible but again, is this optimism or realism.
Whatever the outcome for the past fortnight’s talks, Michel Barnier has again reiterated the EU is prepared for a no-deal scenario but has not put forward a Plan B for the EU fishing fleet if it is locked-out of UK waters.
An unofficial deadline of late next week remains the mostly likely target for officials on both sides to break the deadlock.
EU Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier tweeted:
“Updating @Europarl_EN & Member States on EU-UK negotiations today.
Despite EU efforts to find solutions, very serious divergences remain in Level Playing Field, Governance & Fisheries. These are essential conditions for any economic partnership.
The EU is prepared for all scenarios.”
UK Chief Negotiator, David Frost tweeted:
“We’ve just finished two weeks of intensive talks with the EU.
“Progress made, but I agree with @MichelBarnier that wide divergences remain on some core issues. We continue to work to find solutions that fully respect UK sovereignty.”