A leading French MEP François-Xavier Bellamy has ordered EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier to stand firm against British fishing demands. Mr Bellamy told the European Parliament this morning that fishing “will remain a priority until the last minute”. He added that French fishermen, who risk losing out after the transition period, “know they can count on Michel Barnier” to give them priority in any agreement.
He told MPs: “What we have to do is defend the interests of the citizens of our country to the end.
“For them, for us, for our British friends, we must give them every chance to make a deal until the end.
“This will be vital for the protection of our economies, which are being destroyed by the current Covid crisis. ”
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“And a tragic situation for the fishing industry. How not to mention them?
“Also for British fishermen who would lose their outlets. There are so many jobs, from Bologna to Rotterdam.
“It all depends on this activity and its historical links with the sharing of our waters.
Brussels is calling for the power to freeze UK businesses, and in particular its fishing industry, from the Brexit trade deal and the single market if EU fishermen are excluded from UK waters in the future.
The EU’s chief negotiator said it was “unacceptable” that Britain could cut off access to British waters but retain the benefits of the trade deal with the bloc.
Mr Barnier said: “The European Union must also retain its sovereign right to react or compensate by adapting the conditions of products, and in particular fishery products, to the single market”.
However, Boris Johnson has repeatedly rejected calls to tie fishing to trade because of the risk of retaliation from the EU.