The European parliament’s Sunday deadline may pass without an agreement on a post-Brexit trade and security deal, France’s European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune has said, as British and EU negotiators continue to haggle over rights. fishing.
MEPs have said they will cast a consent vote on December 28 if the two sides agree on the terms before midnight CET on Sunday, raising the stakes for a weekend deal.
But Beaune, a longtime Emmanuel Macron ally speaking on behalf of the French president on Brexit, said the French government will not rush to a deal in the next 48 hours.
“It would be normal not to say: well, it’s Sunday night, so let’s finish and sacrifice everything,” he said. “It can be difficult and sometimes difficult to understand, but it is necessary to take our time and, in any case, not sacrifice our interests under the pressure of a calendar.”
A deal could still be provisionally applied on January 1 if a deal is reached, and parliament will hold a vote later in the month, but the European Commission is understood to be reluctant to take that step.
This process would also take up to a week, given the need for the treaty to be translated and analyzed in the EU capitals. Its chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, told MEPs on Thursday that a short period of no trade and security deals may be necessary as a result if the talks drag on until Christmas.
Since neither alternative seems acceptable, the EU side is willing to try to close the deal this weekend, but the two sides continue to struggle to find a compromise on access to British seas for the European fishing fleet.
The annual fish turnover for UK vessels in British waters is around € 850 million compared to € 650 million for EU member states. The prime minister was presented with the latest offer from the EU to deliver more than 25% of its catch by value (162.5 million euros a year) to UK vessels.
The UK insists that the EU should come closer to its repatriation demand of 60% of current catches, worth around 390 million euros a year.
The UK also wants to restrict a phase-in period for the new deals to three years instead of the seven more recently proposed by Brussels.
Downing Street is further resisting the EU’s demand to be able to apply tariffs or completely block the entry of British goods in the event that the government closes access to the UK seas sometime after the transition period.
Around 75% of the UK’s fish exports, including the most valuable species such as herring, cod, shellfish, mackerel and salmon, go to the EU market.
Johnson wants to keep the six to 12-nautical mile zone off the British coast, fished for centuries by French and Belgian ships, exclusively for UK-flagged ships.
The prime minister asked the EU on Friday to present a proposed deal. “Our door is open, we will continue talking, but I have to say that things are looking difficult,” he said. “We hope our friends from the EU make sense and come to the table with something themselves, because that’s where we really are.”
Barnier has complained that the UK believes it is owed a concession on access to fishing having accepted the need for an “evolution clause” in the EU and UK standards in the treaty. “This is not how it works,” he said.
The evolution clause opens up the possibility of the unilateral application of rates in the event of divergence in environmental, labor or social standards that puts one of the parties at a competitive disadvantage.
A UK government source said it was most likely a no-deal outcome. “Negotiations continue, but we stay away. We will leave no stone unturned, but given the current situation, it seems more likely that we will leave the transition period in Australian terms, ”said the source.
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