Barnier defends stance on fisheries deal ahead of this week’s EU/UK talks
Michel Barnier has come to the defence of the European Union’s stance on access to UK fisheries waters ahead of this week’s eighth round of future relations talks.
In advance of talks restarting tomorrow, Tuesday 08 Sept, the EU Chief Negotiator said “Excluding European fishermen is not acceptable for us”.
That message was sent to Boris Johnson and his negotiating team led by the UK Chief Negotiator, David Frost.
Talks are currently stalling on two issues. One of which is fisheries and the other is on state-aid.
An issue that has been of controversy over the weekend has been the Financial Times report which stated that British legislation out this week will “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement” in areas including state aid and the new customs arrangements for Northern Ireland
Whilst the EU is seeking access to UK waters for their fishing fleet, the EU also wants an agreement to curb the UK government granting state-aid to businesses within Great Britain in an effort to combat those businesses from gaining an unfair advantage over their EU neighbours.
The UK could become the EU’s second largest trading partner after the US postBrexit and officials in Brussels fear the EU could be overtaken by British trade if these subsidies were allowed.
Irish politicians are not happy with the news as they believe that the British PM is trying to undermine the Northern Ireland Peace Deal and has been accused of “trading peace for fish” by one Irish TD.
Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, TD has described the reports as “a very unwise way to proceed.”
Michel Barnier said he is “worried” for the fate of the post-Brexit trade talks ahead of this week’s make-or-break negotiating round in London.
He hit out at his UK counterpart for trying to secure a “best of both worlds” divorce from the bloc. The Frenchman said: “I remain worried … the negotiations are difficult, because the British want the best of both worlds. We did not go to bed, in the end the interests of the EU are respected.”
He continued “There will be no agreement to the detriment of the single market.”
Mr Barnier insisted there would not be a free-trade agreement without an accord that secures access to Britain’s fishing grounds for the EU fleet..