Michel Barnier gave the UK an ultimatum and warned that there would be no trade deal unless there was a “balanced deal” on fisheries. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator has indicated that Brussels will be ready to accept a proposal based on data involving fishing quotas – which would be determined by the amount of marine life in the sea.
When asked what impact these proposals would have on the UK fishing industry, Mr Deas said Express.co.uk: “None because the United Kingdom will not accept anything that affects its status as an independent coastal state.”
Deas, head of the representative body for fishermen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, added that the fishing stocks and access arrangements were all part of normal negotiations but insisted that quotas “are only part of the picture”.
The fisheries expert insisted that the latest concession proves that the EU has finally realized that its negotiating position was wrong.
He insisted that the EU is trying to limit the damage by not straying too far from the current rules and its so-called red lines.
He added that Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost had made it clear that he would not accept anything that would affect the UK’s ability to manage its waters and comply with the United Nations’ law of the sea.
Deas said: “I think the Commission recognizes that the EU’s negotiating mandate on fisheries is unworkable.
“The United Kingdom has made it clear that it will be an independent coastal state and that it should exercise the rights and responsibilities of a coastal state as defined in the United Nations law of the sea.
“The Commission’s strategy is to contain and limit the divergence from the status quo.
“I think the United Kingdom has made it clear that for the United Kingdom it is a matter of principle and that nothing that compels the sovereignty of the United Kingdom to manage its own waters will be acceptable.”
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He added, “You can regularly discuss fishing stocks every year in the light of scientific advice, so that we can protect resources and biodiversity, but negotiating access to the waters and the fish in those waters every year would be impossible for a hundred species.
“There will be no trade agreement with the UK unless there is a balanced fisheries agreement.
“Is this” balanced agreement “the British position, as it is currently? Certainly not. Is it the European position as it is today? Obviously not. ”
Barnier had talks inside Number 10 with Frost earlier this week, saying the discussions were “useful” but acknowledged “significant differences remain”.
Discussions after Brexit will resume in Brussels next week.