A major breakthrough has reportedly been made in Brexit negotiations over the rights of European fleets to fish in UK waters (Picture: EPA)
A major breakthrough has been made in Brexit negotiations over the rights of European fleets to fish in UK waters, it has been reported.
Sources in Brussels say now both parties have ‘all but finalised’ the level of access EU boats will have to seas within the UK’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone, The Guardian reports. The final hurdle is now said to be a Franco-German demand that the UK follows EU laws.
However, a government source told Sky News the progress could not be classed as a ‘breakthrough’, adding that ‘nothing new’ had been achieved today. ITV’s Robert Peston also said his sources had denied the claims and wrote on Twitter: ‘Please stop telling me fish is sorted. It categorically is not.’
The talks resumed today for what sources described as a ‘final throw of the dice’ for securing a Brexit deal. They added: ‘There is a fair deal to be done that works for both sides, but this will only happen if the EU is willing to respect the fundamental principles of sovereignty and control.’
On Saturday, Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen ordered one last push to try to overcome the remaining differences. The two leaders, who spoke for over an hour, are due to hold a further phone call on Monday evening to assess whether an agreement is possible.
In a joint statement after their call, they said: ‘Both sides underlined that no agreement is feasible if these issues are not resolved. Whilst recognising the seriousness of these differences, we agreed that a further effort should be undertaken by our negotiating teams to assess whether they can be resolved.’
Fishing rights have been one of the sticking points in negotiations (Picture: EPA)
Earlier today Irish premier Micheal Martin warned that the talks were on a ‘knife edge’. He told RTE: ‘My gut instinct is that it is 50-50 right now. Things are on a knife edge and it is serious.
‘I don’t think one can be overly optimistic about a resolution emerging and my sense, having spoken to some of the key principals here, that this is a very challenging issue to resolve, particularly around the level playing field.’
Environment Secretary George Eustice also warned the negotiations were in a ‘very difficult position’ after a series of ‘setbacks’, and accused the EU of introducing ‘a whole load of additional demands’ late in the day.
He also claimed the EU was insisting on ‘ludicrous’ conditions on future fishing rights.
Brexit talks continued today in Brussels (Picture: EPA)
Appearing on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he said: ‘We will continue to work on these negotiations until there is no point doing so any further but there is no point denying that what happened late last week was a setback.’
On the issue of fisheries, he said the UK was prepared to offer a multi-annual deal of up to three years, but the EU was insisting on access to British waters for its fishers ‘in perpetuity’.
He went on: ‘We would be the only country in the entire world that could agree that so such a suggestion really is quite ludicrous and not consistent with international law.’
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