The prime minister threatened to quit negotiations if the “form” of a trade deal was not in sight by Thursday’s EU summit.
“We will not accept a bad agreement and a bad agreement in the field of fishing in particular”, declared Clément Beaune, a close ally of Mr. Macron, “we will have no weakness on this question of fishing, c ‘is clear.
Mr Beaune warned the UK and its EU allies that Paris would not allow French fishermen to be sacrificed just to get the free trade agreement on the line while the French government urged companies to prepare for all scenarios, including no agreement.
Michel Barnier, the bloc’s chief negotiator, told EU ambassadors last week that it was not ‘possible’ to maintain the same access to UK waters as before Brexit and urged them to do so. compromises.
Mr. Beaune said: “The fishing industry […] should not be isolated or mistreated in these negotiations because it is important for the British but it is also very important for France.
“It is crucial for France, for the whole of the EU, that we defend our interests, the interests of our fishermen and our women, in this negotiation,” he declared.
EU vessels land around eight times more fish in UK waters than UK fishermen in EU waters, but the UK depends on the European export market.
France can expect support from countries like Belgium, Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands. Other countries, including Germany, believe that the price of a zero-tariff trade deal is not worth losing for an industry that represents a relatively small part of the economy.
Negotiations resumed Monday in Brussels and are expected to continue until Wednesday before the European Council meeting, in which Macron will participate, on Thursday afternoon.
A UK official said: “There is still a big gap on fish. The EU must be more realistic if an agreement is to be reached. “