Brexit: ‘Arrangements have been made’ on fishing says Gove
The UK formally left the EU back in January and negotiations on a future trade deal have been gridlocked over fishing rights, governance and the so-called level playing field. Despite less than 10 days before the end of the transition period, neither side has been able to budge significantly enough on these key issues.
Fishing has been one of the main reasons why negotiations have been gridlocked.
Under the controversial Commons Fisheries Policy (CFP), all member states are given access to EU waters via quotas.
As the UK has a large coastal area, critics have often argued the system is unfair.
And as the deadline draws nearer, a no deal outcome is looking more likely meaning the UK will soon be leaving the bloc’s single market from January 1.
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But while briefing EU ambassadors yesterday, the EU’s chief negotiator Mr Barnier predicted there could soon be protesting fishermen come January 1.
RTE’s Europe Editor, Tony Connelly, tweeted: “Barnier said the image of Brexit on Europe on January 1 would be angry protesting fishermen.
“How would you explain to people we’re going to give the UK interconnection rights in the North Sea to the EU grid + at the same time our boats aren’t allowed to catch fish in UK waters?”
Yesterday, the EU rejected Boris Johnson’s reported deal the bloc should hand back 30-35 percent of value of their current catches in British waters, to be phased in over five years.
However, Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive officer at the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said this deal would be “completely unacceptable”.
She said: “It would be a derisory shift in the uplift that our industry needs to see and would be a complete failure of these negotiations from our point of view.
“What we expect the government to hold out for is to make sure that we absolutely must control access to our fishing waters.
“We must have unfettered control of our waters.”
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Negotiations are ongoing this week and Mr Barnier said there had been “significant progress” in the talks.
Now there is a deadline of Christmas Eve to get a deal which would give the EU’s legal services time to draw up a letter.
Mr Connelly added: “It’s understood officials will need four days at a minimum to draft a letter seeking provisional application of the treaty (all this is on the basis that it is pretty much too late for the European Parliament to ratify the treaty on time for January 1).”
He continued to say diplomats are not “ruling out a deal by Christmas Eve” and said Member States are expected to meet every day except December 25.
According to one diplomat, Mr Barnier will publish the text once it is agreed but before it has been “legally scrubbed”.
As there are no council meetings between now and December 31, Member States will be able to approve the text via written procedure.
Earlier today, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick blamed Brussels for its inability to accept Britain as an independent sovereign nation.
He told Sky News: “I’m still reasonably optimistic but there’s no news to report to you this morning.
“There’s still the same serious areas of disagreement whether that’s on fisheries or a level-playing field.
“We’re working through those issues, our negotiations will keep going, the Prime Minister has been very clear that he’s going to negotiate until the very end which is the 31st of December because that’s the right thing.
“But at the moment, there isn’t sufficient progress.
“It isn’t a deal that the Prime Minister feels he can sign us up to because it doesn’t yet respect us in full as a sovereign independent nation.”
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