The EU and UK have yet to reach a compromise on fisheries as the post-Brexit transition period comes to an end. Brussels negotiator Michel Barnier has warned the UK that it will be shut out of European markets if it does not open up UK fishing grounds and accept a level playing field in regulation. The UK has tried to persuade the EU to make concessions, but the bloc’s coastal countries have so far pressured Mr Barnier to honor his initial demands. One of the main reasons Leave won the 2016 referendum was the prospect of the UK taking sole control of its waters.
Jean-Paul Mulot told Mr. Sackur: “We are in a difficult negotiation, and yes, fishing is the first file on the table and unfortunately, it is not possible for the French to give up like this.
“We know the fishermen, their reaction is to the blockade in the ports here in Boulogne and probably in Calais which means it will affect the other side of the industry. “
Mr. Sackur replied: “Jean-Paul, this is insane.
“Are you telling me that the French are ready to accept the blocking not only of fishing in the UK, but also of trade across the Channel? ”
Mr. Mulot replied: “These are symbols. We know Boris Johnson is also playing on symbols. ”
Asked whether the French are bluffing, Mr. Mulot added: “No, we are not. ”
French Minister for European Affairs in Paris, Clément Beaune, sent a stern warning to the UK over Brexit trade talks, saying the EU will stick to its principles.
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Asked specifically about France’s position on giving Mr Barnier more flexibility in trade negotiations to reach a compromise, Mr Beaune said that is “not what we want”.
He continued: “We have a clear mandate on both sides, Mr Barnier’s mandate has been approved by all 27 and it will not change.
“It is also based on a political declaration signed last year, as agreed by Boris Johnson and the 27 EU member states.
“We ask to be in agreement with this political declaration. “