Brexit: Alastair Campbell clashes with Parry over UK leaving EU
The EU is seeking an extension by a year of the current arrangements under the Common Fisheries Policy if a deal is not secured, something which Boris Johnson will not accept. But Elspeth Macdonald, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation claimed Brussels demands was “laughable” and “totally unacceptable to the Scottish fishing industry”.
In a statement this morning, Ms MacDonald made clear EU vessels landed 10 times more fish from UK waters than UK vessels do from theirs.
It comes EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier stressed a trade deal between the UK and European Union was still possible
Talks were extended on Sunday after Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen agreed to continue the process despite major differences still remaining.
This morning, Barnier updated diplomats from the 27 EU states about the progress which has been made before resuming negotiations with his UK counterpart Lord Frost.
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For months, the talks have been deadlocked on the issues of fishing rights which have plagued fishing chiefs as well as state aid and the level playing field.
Ms MacDonald, added: “The EU is seeking an extension by a year of the current arrangements under the Common Fisheries Policy, which is laughable and would be totally unacceptable to the Scottish fishing industry.
“Were the UK to accede to this in its first act as an independent coastal state, it would be a travesty.”
She made clear it was “disingenuous of the EU to contend that there would be no certainty on fishing.”
The fishing chief made clear the two sides could “sit down as equal independent coastal states” and within “a matter of days” resolve issues of access, quota shares and conditions for the year ahead.
Ms MacDonald continued: “And the UK would set the terms that would apply to any EU vessels fishing in our waters.”
Concluding, the fishing boss said it was up to Brussels as to whether a prospective deal could be secured.
Outline them, she said: “Ultimately, it is up to the EU which of the two routes it wishes to take towards the UK becoming a coastal state – through a stable framework agreement that respects UK sovereignty and follows similar arrangements that the EU has with other coastal states in the north-east Atlantic, or via a less structured route for the EU where everything is done through annual negotiations with no framework agreement in place.”
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Speaking today, Mr Barnier said the “next few days” are important if a deal is to be in place for January 1st.
Following a briefing with EU ambassadors, he said: “It is our responsibility to give the talks every chance of success,” he said.
“Never before has such a comprehensive agreement (trade, energy, fisheries, transport, police and judicial cooperation etc) been negotiated so transparently and in such little time.”
Express.co.uk understands UK officials are keen to get a deal secured before Christmas but the UK and EU refused to set a new fixed deadline.
A Whitehall source close to the negotiations told Express.co.uk a deal would be ideal before Christmas Eve as discussions remain deadlocked on state aid, the level playing field and fisheries.
They added: “Extra work is needed but we are hoping they [Michel Barnier and the EU] will deliver us a happy Christmas present.
“There certainly is some light at the end of the tunnel, before Christmas would be an ideal time to secure a deal.”
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