Brexit: Emmanuel Macron calls for 'fair agreement' on fisheries
Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the UK will need to prepare for no-deal at the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, despite ramping up efforts to get Brussels to back down by meeting Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this week. He said the current proposals would keep Britain “kind of locked in the EU’s orbit” but insisted negotiators would “go the extra mile” in trying to get a deal. The two sides have struggled to reach a breakthrough on issues such as the level playing field and fishing, particularly as France threatened to veto a deal if they didn’t get their own way over fisheries.
The EU contingency proposals for no-deal included for Europe’s fishing boats to continue having access to UK waters next year, but Mr Johnson quickly shot this down by saying this would never be “accepted” by the UK.
MP for Poole Robert Syms savaged France for pushing the EU too far over its demands.
He tweeted: “A deal was possible a few weeks ago.
“The French have pushed the EU to move to a position which means no deal is inevitable.”
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Mr Macron said he still wanted a deal this morning. but added Europeans hadn’t chosen for the UK to leave the bloc.
He said at the EU Summit Briefing: “We have a principle: be united. And I stand by that.
“We have a negotiator, a firm strategy. That means we have had a list of what is acceptable and what is not since the very beginning on fishing, energy, rules of fair competition which defend the integrity of the common market.
“It’s normal that in negotiations where there’s a lot of people involved there are rumours, noises, fire and counterfire.
“I respect all the parties involved and I hope we can agree to a deal that preserves the integrity of the EU, because Europeans haven’t chosen Brexit, and that respects our British friends.”
Paris’ Europe Minister Clément Beaune refused to back down by saying
this week that France’s fishermen would not be “sacrificed” in talks.
Mr Beaune also claimed that Mr Johnson tried to negotiate directly with Mr Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but that the EU rejected such bypassing of the Commission.
He said during the European Council summit: “We never gave in to this pressure because our method, the unity of the mandate and the negotiator and the constant full support to chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier is the key to our success.
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“The European Council summit is not an appeals court for the Brexit negotiation.”
Mr Johnson previously offered a lifeline to Mr Macron as he said the UK
will do “everything we possibly can” to get a deal.
He said he would be willing to return to Brussels, or head to Paris or Berlin, to get a deal over the line.
The EU appeared to be showing cracks as Ms von der Leyen backed down during a speech this morning.
She said: “It is only fair that competitors to our own enterprises face the same conditions on our own market.
“But, this is not to say that we would require the UK to follow us every time we decide to raise our level of ambition.
“On fisheries, here, also, we continue to have a gap.
“We have not yet found the solutions to bridge our differences.
“We understand that the UK aspires to control its waters.
“The UK must, on the other hand, understand the legitimate expectations of EU fishing fleets built on decades, and, sometimes, centuries of access.
“On these and other points, our negotiators are working.
“We will decide on Sunday whether we have the conditions for an agreement or not.”
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