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The October deadline for Brexit negotiations has come and gone with neither side able to come to an agreement on fishing rights for EU vessels in UK waters under a new relationship. Crucial talks are set to continue as the end of the transition period looms closer – coming to an end on December 31.
Negotiations were gridlocked over issues such as fishing and state aid, but the CEO of the NFFO has claimed the EU created an “artificial linkage” between trade and fisheries.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Barrie Deas said: “I think both sides want a deal because from a trade point of view it’s much better to have a deal than not have a deal.
“And that includes the fish trade. There are businesses of both sides of the Channel which depend on the flow of trade and fishing products.
“But in a no deal situation we would have to trade under WTO terms which wouldn’t be as advantageous and it would be problematic but having said that I don’t think the UK will or should surrender on fishing rights to get a deal.
“It’s the EU that has made this artificial linkage between trade and fisheries.
“In our mind, they are two completely separate issues which should be dealt with separately.
“It’s the EU who has made this linkage.
“We can understand why they have made the linkage because it has got very weak leverage in fisheries – their boats take about five times as much out of UK waters as we take out of EU waters.
“So not having access is really problematic to them.”
As the transition period is set to come to an end on December 31, with or without a deal in place, Mr Deas claimed the EU knows how damaging no deal will be.
He continued: “If you look at it in terms of fishing rights, then if there is no deal we go into annual negotiations with the EU for a standalone arrangement for 2021.
“Exactly the same issues arise there.
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“Without an annual agreement there will be no access to UK waters and the issue of quota shares will appear again.
“So the EU knows not having a deal means problems on fishing rights very soon, from January 1.”
The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost has suggested a ‘glide path’ towards an end point for future fisheries could be on the cards.
He said last month: “Provided the end point is one that we wish to get to, there could be some glide path to get there.
“There are quite significant limits of what could be done there.
“I don’t think we would wish to close an agreement that didn’t satisfy the reasonable expectations of UK fishermen.”
Mr Deas also believes any delay to Brexit would cause increasing frustrations in the fishing industry.
He said: “I think the industry, having been tied into disadvantaged terms for 40 years, would be somewhat frustrated with any further delay.
“But I think the more important point is how long the glide path would last and what the destination is.
“If there is absolute clarity at the end of it that we would be acting like an independent coastal state and we would have quota shares that reflected the resources in our waters.”
Talks between Mr Barnier and Lord Frost broke up earlier this week without any significant breakthroughs on the key sticking points.
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