Britain needs the EU! German minister hits out at Boris – ‘UK can’t eat all its own fish!’
Brexit: ‘Arrangements have been made’ on fishing says Gove
Fishing remains the most stubborn obstacle in the “very narrow path” towards a trade agreement between the UK and European Union as last-ditch negotiations continue. German agriculture minister Julia Klöckner said it was essential for EU trawlers to maintain access to the UK coastal waters when the Brexit transition period expires in two weeks.
The British can’t eat all the fish they catch completely by themselves after all
But the minister said it was also in the UK’s interests to strike a deal which gives its fishing industry access to the EU market where demand for the British catch was high.
She said: “The British can’t eat all the fish they catch completely by themselves after all.
“They do need around 450 million consumers of the European single market.”
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When asked why fishing had become one of the key focal points of the trade talks, Ms Klöckner said: “The reason the subject is so emotional in the negotiations is that it is partly ‘all or nothing’ and because Britain naturally believes that it can put pressure on all other areas of negotiation.”
But she said she doubted the issue would be settled before Christmas.
She said: “I am sceptical about there being a Christmas present when it comes to an agreement.
“We are working on it, the EU is working on it, Michel Barnier is working on it.
“We will see. But as I said, not every agreement is a good agreement and the EU Commission knows this.”
Boris Johnson has warned the prospect of agreeing to a trade deal with the EU is “looking difficult”, as Mr Barnier, Brussels’ chief negotiator, said there are “just a few hours” left in the Brexit talks.
The Prime Minister insisted the onus was on the bloc to “see sense” and make a compromise or the transition period will end on December 31 without a deal.
Mr Johnson reiterated “no sensible government” could agree to a treaty that does not give the nation control of its laws and waters.
Speaking during a visit to Greater Manchester, he said: “Our door is open, we’ll keep talking, but I have to say things are looking difficult.
“There’s a gap that needs to be bridged, the UK has done a lot to try and help and we hope that our EU friends will see sense and come to the table with something themselves, because that’s really where we are.”
Mr Johnson played down the prospects of getting a deal after reviewing the current state of play with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen yesterday.
He accepted failing to broker a deal in time “may be difficult at first” but continued to insist the UK will “prosper mightily” and the nation must look to the “opportunities that will open up to this country in 2021”.
Earlier, Mr Barnier warned there was only a “very narrow” path to a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK as both sides stand at the “moment of truth”.
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He told the European Parliament in Brussels: “We’re not asking more nor less than a balance between rights and obligations and reciprocity, access to our markets and access to our waters and the other way round, no more, no less.
“It’s also obvious that this isn’t an agreement we will sign at any price or any cost. I think I’ve always been frank with you and open and sincere.
“I cannot say what will come during this last home straight of negotiations. We have to be prepared for all eventualities.”
(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)
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