EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is in London today for face-to-face negotiations with UK Brexit negotiator Lord David Frost and his team.
Barnier also held a virtual meeting with the ambassadors this morning before the start of discussions for the day.
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France, and a group of other extremist EU countries, told Barnier he should no longer make concessions in trade talks, according to the Times.
An EU diplomat told The Times: “As we enter the final stages of Brexit negotiations, some member states are getting a little nervous.
“It was therefore mainly an exercise to calm nerves in Paris and elsewhere, and to reassure Member States that the Barnier team will continue to defend the fundamental interests of the EU, including in the field some fishing.”
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said tonight that the UK remains committed to a free trade deal with the EU, but the bloc knows what its ‘bottom line’ is.
“We remain absolutely determined to try to get a deal if we can,” he told a press conference. “I think our friends and I know what the UK bottom line is.
“It’s about making sure the UK is able to enforce its own laws, its own fisheries, etc., and that’s basically what it is.
The biggest obstacle to a deal lies in future fishing agreements in UK waters.
Barnier calls on EU countries to maintain access to 80% of the value of fish in UK waters they had before Brexit.
The Times reports that the UK’s latest offer to Brussels is for them to keep 40% – a figure Barnier refused.
France in particular has pushed Brussels a lot for fishing as it has many fishermen who operate in British waters.
French President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday: “France will not accept an agreement that does not respect our interests in the future. ”
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Time is running out for the UK to close a trade deal, with the Brexit transition period ending in less than 30 days.