Michel Barnier on Friday announced the latest round of Brexit talks had resulted yet again in “no progress”, as he noted negotiations on fishing and other key issues have remained at a stalemate. Mr Barnier has been working on behalf of European Union member states to ensure their vessels have continued access to UK fishing waters once Britain is completely out of the bloc. But Barrie Deas, the chief executive UK National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, renewed the industry’s commitment not to “capitulate” to Brussels’ demands.
Speaking to Euronews, Mr Deas said: “The EU position would really require capitulation by the UK on the issue of fisheries.
“That’s just not going to happen.
“This is an asymmetrical relationship which benefits the EU fleets and, quite unsurprisingly, they want to cling on to that.”
While fishing contributes around 3 percent to the UK’s overall GDP, some coastal EU nations heavily depend on the industry and have seen in Brexit a threat to the livelihood of thousands of fishermen.
Michel Barnier was warned UK fisheries will not “capitulate” to his demands
Fisheries have been a key point of contention throughout the Brexit talks
At the start of the Brexit talks, Denmark pleaded with the UK to consider a good deal of fisheries as it warned of the “severe” consequences its fleets would suffer from changes to the current arrangement.
A study conducted by the University of Copenhagen released last month painted a grim picture for the future of Danish fishermen, with three different scenarios predicting losses between 66 percent to 82 percent.
Complete exclusion from UK waters was considered to be the worst-case scenario, with researchers claiming such a result would decimate Danish landing values by 57 percent and profits by more than three-quarters.
Number 10 earlier this week accused Brussels of “wishful thinking” over their belief the UK would make concessions over fisheries.
Fishing communities have seen Brexit as an opportunity for renewal
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “This is wishful thinking by the EU.
“We have always been clear there is no question of splitting the difference on level playing field and fish.
“We are not compromising on those because our position on these is fundamental to an independent country.
“Any agreement has to deal with this reality.”
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Brexit would see the end of the current access deal EU states have
Updating the Brussels press pack on Friday, Mr Barnier confirmed the UK had refused to budge on several issues, including fisheries.
The French negotiator said: “On fisheries, the UK have not shown any true will to explore other approaches, beyond Zonal Attachment.
“I don’t think we can go on like this forever.”
But UK negotiator David Frost insisted the British team is willing to work hard to ensure a good deal is struck timely as long as Brussels recognised his commitment to deliver on his own mandate.
Responding to Mr Barnier with a letter, Mr Frost said: “For our part, we are willing to work hard to see whether at least the outline of a balanced agreement, covering all issues, can be reached soon.
“Any such deal must, of course, accommodate the reality of the UK’s well-established position on the so-called ‘level playing field’, on fisheries, and the other difficult issues.”