Brexit fisheries row: EU branded ‘selfish’ as Brussels bloc told to ‘budge’ in tense talks

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Heated talks between London and Brussels continued on Tuesday night as time runs out for both sides to agree to a deal, with the Brexit transition period finishing at the end of December. Fisheries continue to be a contentious issue in trade negotiations, with UK officials standing firm on securing a deal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made clear a deal with the Brussels bloc is preferable but has warned the UK is willing to walk away without an agreement.

Speaking about recent talks, a Whitehall source close to the negotiations claimed the EU side was being “selfish” over fishing, adding Brussels’ approach was “not helpful to the negotiations.”

The source added: “This is a tight point of contention, the EU needs to budge.”

Environment Secretary George Eustice has insisted the UK is seeking “zonal attachment”.

It comes after the EU proposed an offer which would see the bloc hand back 15 to 18 percent of its catch the UK’s current share.

However, a No10 source said this approach showed signs the EU was “making things difficult”.

Speaking about the process of securing a deal, Mr Eustice told Holyrood’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee: “Here is the sharing arrangement; in other words, who gets what slice of the cake.

“In the final analysis, what tends to happen is an argument over sharing, which is understandable.

 

“The way in which those arguments are flushed out is by saying to countries ‘if you think you have those fish in your waters, catch them in your waters’.

“It is at that point that the countries that depend on access to another country’s waters in order to catch the fish that they would like have to accept a different type of sharing arrangement.

“That is the general dynamic of any fisheries negotiation.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said France was paying particular attention to negotiations around trade conditions and fisheries in talks over a Brexit deal, adding that the country’s long term interests were at stake.

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In a joint news conference with Belgian PM Alexander De Croo this afternoon, he added: “France will not accept a Brexit deal that does not respect our long term interests.”

The Belgian PM then said the European Union and Britain were in “the last minutes of a football game” when it came to discussions over Brexit, adding that he considered it important to reach a deal but not at any cost.

German MEP Gunnar Beck told Express.co.uk this evening that he could see a deal in sight making clear “compromises” would be made.

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