Brexit: UK say talks for deal are at 'a very difficult point'
With less than a month until the end of the transition period on December 31, negotiators from both sides have held talks this week to try and secure a trade deal. An EU official claimed today a deal will be struck within 48 hours.
Issues over fishing quotas and state aid gridlocked talks over recent months with neither side able to come to any agreement.
But now, German MEP Manfred Weber has admitted the Prime Minister is in control of the fishing “leverage”.
He said: “Fishing is certainly Great Britain’s biggest leverage against the EU, because we are currently profiting a lot from the access to the fishing stocks.
“This is certainly the biggest leverage GB has.”
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Mr Weber went on to explain how Norway is not a member of the EU but the bloc has managed to find “reasonable solutions” there.
He continued: “And you also shouldn’t overlook, that even if GB are to fish all the fish they own, they still have to sell it somewhere.
“Therefore the British also have an interest in having access to the EU single market to sell their fish.
“Therefore both sides have interests, and I want to repeat that it is now a question of common sense to keep the lose-lose situation, it is a lose-lose situation that GB is leaving, to keep it to a minimum.”
Under the controversial Commons Fisheries Policy (CFP), all member states are given access to EU waters via quotas.
As the UK has a large coastal area, critics have often argued the system is unfair.
Fishing currently only makes up 0.1 percent of Britain’s economy but there are hopes this could increase after Brexit.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, offered to give between 15 and 18 percent of fish caught in UK waters by European boats back to Britain under a deal.
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The EU’s offer would be worth just an estimated £105million (€117million).
But the ultimatum by Mr Barnier was attacked by UK ministers who claimed it was unacceptable for Britain.
Micheal Gove said last week: “The EU still wants to take the lion’s share of the fish in our waters which is just not fair given we are leaving the EU.
“The second thing is that the EU still wants us to be tied to their way of doing things.
“The third thing is what happens if there is a dispute.
“The EU is at the moment reserving the right if there is a dispute, not quite to rip everything up, but really to impose some quite penal and tough
restrictions on us.
“We do not think that is fair.”
Mr Barnier was expected to update the EU national envoys today but has since remained in London.
A spokesman for the bloc said the update was cancelled “due to the ongoing intensive negotiations in London”.
While the latest talks “did not go well”, a breakthrough is still possible in the next few days.
A UK Government source said: “At the eleventh hour, the EU is bringing new elements into the negotiation.
“A breakthrough is still possible in the next few days but that prospect is receding.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg
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