Brexit trade talks stall as Emmanuel Macron digs in over fish

Brexit trade talks between the UK and the EU remain deadlocked with no sign of ‘white smoke’ as Emmanuel Macron was warned Britain will not cave into his demands on fishing. 

The two sides remain locked in negotiations as the clock ticks down to the end of the post-Brexit ‘standstill’ transition period on December 31. 

Rising optimism of a deal being in sight is now beginning to wane as negotiators fail to make significant progress on crunch issues. 

Mr Macron has dug in over his demands relating to future access to UK waters for French fishermen amid suggestions he believes Britain will come crawling back to the negotiating table in the New Year after the chaos of a no deal split. 

But the UK has warned the French President that he will be ‘making a miscalculation of historic proportions’ if he believes Britain will back down. 

Emmanuel Macron has been warned the UK will not cave into his demands on post-Brexit fishing rights

Emmanuel Macron has been warned the UK will not cave into his demands on post-Brexit fishing rights

Emmanuel Macron has been warned the UK will not cave into his demands on post-Brexit fishing rights

Boris Johnson has repeatedly said the UK will split from the EU without a deal on December 31 if the two sides cannot agree a trade deal

Boris Johnson has repeatedly said the UK will split from the EU without a deal on December 31 if the two sides cannot agree a trade deal

Boris Johnson has repeatedly said the UK will split from the EU without a deal on December 31 if the two sides cannot agree a trade deal

There is now less than two weeks before the end of the transition period and a failure to strike and ratify a deal in the coming days will see the two sides forced to trade on basic World Trade Organisation terms from January 1, with tariffs imposed on goods. 

European Parliament chiefs had set a deadline of today for an accord to be in place, having warned that if it comes later than that they will not have enough time to properly scrutinise it. 

But there remains little sign of a breakthrough being imminent, with Britain and the bloc still unable to agree on the so-called ‘level playing field’ on rules and on fishing rights with the latter viewed as the biggest stumbling block.

There is growing anger at the position taken by Mr Macron who is adamant European trawlers must retain a high level of access to British waters while the UK insists its own boats must have priority. 

The French President is said to be willing to accept a no deal Brexit in the short term rather than back down on the issue because he believes the UK will come back to the negotiating table in the Spring.

But a UK source told the Sunday Times: ‘If he, Macron, thinks that, he’s making a miscalculation of historic proportions.  

‘We cannot accept a deal that doesn’t leave us in charge of our own waters.’

A Cabinet minister told the same newspaper: ‘There’s no white smoke. I think we’ll still be talking about this on December 31.’

However, in a sign that a deal could still be done in the coming days another source told the Sunday Telegraph that almost all of the deal was now done and ‘it feels like we are less than two turbots apart’.  

The UK has blamed the ongoing state of stalemate on ‘unreasonable EU demands on areas such as subsidies and fisheries’.  

MEPs said they needed to see the terms of any agreement by this evening if they are going to be able to ratify it before the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31. 

But France’s European affairs minister, Clement Beaune, suggested on Saturday that Sunday was unlikely to prove to be a hard deadline.

‘It would be normal not to say “Well it’s Sunday evening so let’s wrap it and sacrifice everything”,’ he was quoted as saying by the Guardian website.

‘It may be hard and sometimes tough to understand, but it’s necessary to take the time and, at any rate, not to sacrifice our interests under the pressure of a calendar.’

Meanwhile in the UK, MPs are on standby to return to Westminster from their Christmas break if an agreement can be struck in the final days of the year.

Both sides have acknowledged that significant differences still have to be overcome if there is to be a breakthrough.

While the fishing industry accounts for only a tiny proportion of the EU and UK economies it carries huge political resonance on both sides of the Channel.

While the UK says that it is entitled as an independent sovereign nation to take control of its waters, countries like France are determined to defend their fishermen who would lose their livelihoods if they could no longer fish in British waters.

Link hienalouca.com

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