Fishing, “major bone of contention” in post-Brexit discussions

As an “independent coastal state”, the United Kingdom must “have control of its waters”, defends the British Minister for Foreign Affairs Dominic Raab.

Fishing remains a “major bone of contention” in post-Brexit discussions, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Sunday at a critical stage in the talks.

“I think we have a reasonable position, there is an agreement to be found,” he said on Sky News, noting “progress towards greater respect for the position of the United Kingdom”.

But fishing remains “a major bone of contention”, he said, repeating that as an “independent coastal state”, the UK must “have control of its waters”.

Discussions resume on Sunday between European and British negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost. “The work continues, even on a Sunday,” Michel Barnier told the press in the morning.

A free trade agreement in force on January 1

There are only a few days left in London and Brussels to try to conclude a free trade agreement ready to enter into force on January 1, at the end of the transition period which has been running since January 31, the official date of Brexit.

In the absence of an agreement, trade would be carried out according to the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), synonymous with quotas and customs duties. Such a scenario would expose both parties to a new economic shock, which would be added to that caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

According to European sources, Michel Barnier proposed that the EU return 15 to 18% of the total European quotas fished in British waters and to recover in a symmetrical way the quotas fished by the British in the Atlantic and in the Bay of Biscay.

But a government source, quoted by the British agency PA, called these figures “laughable”, saying that Europeans “know very well that we would never accept that”. “It would appear that the (European) Commission is failing to internalize the magnitude of the changes needed as we become an independent nation,” the source said.

“We hope that the EU will come up with fresh ideas, because what we have seen so far is not enough”, said a source close to the negotiations quoted by PA, “they must understand that we are not going to sell our sovereignty”.

On his arrival Friday evening in London, Michel Barnier declared that he would continue to work with “patience and determination”. Face-to-face talks resumed on Saturday, after the EU negotiator had to self-isolate due to a case of Covid-19 in his team.

See also – Brexit: “We are not ready to question the integrity of the single market”, warns Von der Leyen

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