You can’t bully us! Boris hits back as EU tries to ‘scaremonger’ UK into fishing U-turn

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The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the bloc remains “determined” and “patient” but stressed the need for future competition between the 27 member states and the UK to be fair. But Downing Street stressed time was “very short” to reach a deal, which could be implemented when transition arrangements expire at the end of the year.

 

The two sides are now working on draft legal texts but key parts of the documents have not been agreed following months of disputes on fishing rights, the “level playing field” arrangements aimed at preventing unfair competition on standards and state subsidies, as well as the legal mechanisms for governing the proposed treaty.

UK sources close to the negotiations stressed time was “short” and the EU didn’t seem to want to budge after Brussels officials said it was “getting terribly late and maybe too late already” to secure a deal.

One Whitehall official told Express.co.uk they were trying to “scaremonger” UK officials into a fishing climbdown, adding: “Fishing has been the most difficult matter to negotiate.

“The EU need to be realistic on the matter, saying time has run out will not help this process, it’s a sign of scaremongering.


“To an extent, we’ve been going round in circles for some time.”

Express.co.uk understands some signs of progress have been made following talks yesterday but a shift of balance may be needed to secure a deal.

Ireland, the EU member state most exposed to Brexit, said 10 days remained to unlock talks to avoid tariffs and quotas kicking in from January 1, 2021, slashing an estimated £750 million worth of annual commerce.

An EU diplomatic source said: “One cannot say things haven’t moved, since the negotiators are writing a legal text together. So there is some movement. But also a way to go still.”

READ MORE: Fishing chief says dividing EU deal in two could kick-start talks

 

“The (issues of the) level playing field, governance and fisheries are pending. As are serious decisions to be taken by the UK.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman added: “Negotiators have been in contact almost every day since October 22 and they are continuing to work intensively to bridge the gaps that remain between us.

“But, although there has been some progress in recent days, there is much work to be done and time is now very short.

“So if we are to make further progress in the coming days, we need to see more realism from the EU on what it means for the UK to be an independent state.”

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The five days of talks come ahead of a European Council video summit on Thursday which has been touted as a deadline for a draft deal.

But the agenda for Thursday’s meeting of 27 European leaders does not mention Brexit, with the response to the Covid-19 pandemic instead taking centre stage.

One other meeting between 10th-11th December could be seen as a key moment in the shaping of the UK’s departure.

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