France must ratify Brexit deal in English, Barnier tells MPs


Par: Deutsche Welle |

Nov. 28, 2020, 5:12 p.m.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said any deal would be translated into all other EU languages, but lawyers would not be able to sign them in time for EU leaders. EU and European Parliament vote them. (Victoria Jones / Alliance for the photo)French politicians will be forced to ratify a future Brexit deal in English, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has confirmed.

According to a leaked transcript of a private meeting with MEPs obtained by DW, the Frenchman said there was not enough time to prepare the legally approved projects.

“The ratification of the text will have to be done, I think, on the English version,” Barnier told parliamentarians. “I understand the very difficult conditions you’re going to have to work on this – if we have a treaty next week – there will be four weeks, which is not long at all. ”

Barnier said any deal would be translated into all other EU languages, but lawyers would not be able to sign them in time for EU leaders and the European Parliament to vote on them.

French diplomatic sources insisted last week that they wanted a legally approved version in their own language

“Would the British ever consider ratifying a treaty that does not exist in English?” said an official.

Barnier left for London on Friday for further discussions with his British counterpart, David Frost, after briefing MEPs.

Three points of friction

The former French foreign minister said negotiations were still “stuck” on the three main issues that have plagued the talks for months: how to prevent unfair trade and competition, known as a level playing field , control any future agreements and fishing rights.

Barnier said Britain had shown “a little flexibility”, but it was not enough for EU negotiators.

“The UK side wanted to reclaim 100% of its fishing rights and remove all of our opportunities to fish in their waters,” Barnier said, according to the leaked transcript.

“At the moment, the British want to recover 80% of what we currently fish in their waters, but that would still mean the destruction of a large part of the fishing fleets in the countries concerned. ”

The UK also wants to negotiate fishing quotas in the same way as non-EU Norway, which has been repeatedly rejected by Barnier’s team.

“It is very difficult to explain that UK businesses, UK professions can have practically free access to our markets in an easy way,” he said. “At the same time, European fishermen would be banned from entering UK waters or face a guillotine on quotas every year.”

“The British don’t want that kind of logic, they don’t accept it. ”

A British government spokesperson declined to comment on the figures Barnier cited during his session with MPs.

“Fishing is one of the difficult areas that remains,” the spokesperson said. “We can only progress if the EU accepts the reality that the UK will have the right to control access to its waters at the end of this year.”

“There has been progress in the last few days, there is a lot of work to be done and the time is now very short. We now need to see more realism from the EU on what it means for the UK to be an independent state. “

Hurry up

Both sides said time is running out to reach an agreement. EU leaders are expected to approve the deal at a meeting in Brussels on December 10.

European Parliament officials have said they are ready to hold an emergency voting session on December 28 to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

Britain left the European Union on January 31 of this year. But a transition phase means it abides by all EU rules and laws until December 31.

If no deal is reached by then, the UK and the EU would have to negotiate on so-called World Trade Organization rules, which would result in huge tariffs on goods. goods moving in both directions.

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