Published On: Tue, May 26th, 2020

Brexit news: Barnier could hand UK first major fisheries concession | UK | News


Boris Johnson has so far refused to accept plans by Brussels to maintain the same level of access to Britain’s fishing waters as a key pillar of the post-Brexit future relationship. Instead the Prime Minister wants the fisheries agreement to recognise the country’s newly-acquired coastal independence. His chief negotiator, David Frost, has set out blueprints to agree new quota shares by using scientific methods that will be discussed as part of an annual negotiation on access.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, could offer the first glimpse of a fisheries compromise next week in the hope of breaking the deadlock when talks resume.

One of the Frenchman’s senior aides suggested a halfway house could be found between the UK and EU’s positions.

Speaking at an event in Brussels, Paulina Dejmek-Hack, director of the European Commission’s UK task force, signalled negotiations could be moving away from the bloc’s initial position.

She said: “Our mandate is very clear… It is starting from today’s situation – the current state of affairs – we’d like to keep that but, of course, it is very positive that we’re in a constructive exchange with the UK.”

Downing Street officials have expressed concerns that the EU’s current offer is a continuation of the Common Fisheries Policy.

Mr Barnier has said conceding access to Britain’s fishing waters would be just one of the prices the Government must pay for a trade deal with the bloc.

But privately, EU diplomats have recognised that their current negotiating position is “impossible” and will likely result in a no deal scenario.

One source said: “Our opening line of keeping the current terms is impossible to uphold.

“That is clearly unattainable so we’d be looking to some narrowing of the positions.”

The Commission could ease its demands during the next round of negotiations, which begin on June 1, if British officials also consider a compromise.

An EU official said: “There have been hints of a possible reconciliation of approaches.

“We would be looking to shift on demands to keep everything as is now, a somewhat maximalist opening position, if the UK also moved from its position of coastal attachment.

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“On the other hand, there is a mutual interest to established clarity because people working in fishing need to know what they can fish and where.

“There are also people who fish in our waters… there are markets for fish products frequently landed in the UK and exported to Europe.

“I don’t think it should surprise anyone that we start from different positions in this negotiation.”



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