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Britain’s David Frost and the EU’s Michel Barnier are planning to pursue “mini-deals” if no overall trade agreement is agreed by the EU Summit this week. This would help save the parts of the deal that have already been agreed, while allowing room for more talks on areas of disagreement such as state aid. Reaching an agreement on fisheries has proved to be a major sticking point for the UK and EU throughout their trade negotiations.
European fishermen catch more than 90 per cent of Channel cod with France claiming 84 percent of this haul.
Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said fishing is one of the EU’s top priorities.
The EU is pushing for any future deal with the UK to uphold the bloc’s common fisheries policy.
But the UK wants long-term fishing rights to come under a system called “zonal attachment”.
Brussels is worried over this proposal as it would dramatically cut the European catch.
One diplomat said: “It’s hard to imagine any compromise based on zonal attachment.
“Fishing communities would probably sooner opt for no-deal.”
The stalling talks have resulted in other EU countries such as France sharing their own concerns over future fishing opportunities.
This is because French fishermen rely on a huge amount of their income coming from catches in UK waters.
Mr Macron has also made it clear he wants France to keep the same access to the UK’s waters that it has now.
Jean-Pierre Pont is a French politician who represents Boulogne, which is a major French fishing port.
He is also a member of Mr Macron’s party, La Republique En Marche.
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He admitted he believed a no deal exit would be disastrous for the country.
He said: “Fishing shouldn’t be sacrificed or used for bartering.
“Every time Barnier speaks he tells us there will be no agreement if there’s no agreement on fishing.
“For now this position is defended by the whole EU. A no-deal would be a disaster – but also for the U.K.”
Following another week of talks, Mr Barnier and Mr Frost were getting closer to a deal.
However, both sides also have no-deal plans.
Mr Barnier added on Friday that he wants more concessions from the UK before entering the “tunnel”, which is the final stretch of the negotiations.
A senior EU diplomat said: “We need to get a little bit more from the UK side before Barnier is ready to enter the tunnel.”
Mr Johnson’s spokesman said the two sides still disagreed on “important issues”.
The spokesman said: “We’ve had useful discussions this week and progress has been made in some areas. However, there still remain differences on some important issues.”
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