Brussels sources have signalled that the European Union may be planning to back down on their fishing demands following the chief British negotiator saying the UK would not accept the bloc’s “low-quality” trade deal offer.
Under the current Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), European fishermen have access to more than 60 per cent of the landings coming from the UK’s territorial waters; to date, Brussels has demanded continued access in exchange for a free trade agreement (FTA).
The EU may be softening on that position, however, with sources speaking to Reuters saying that the EU is willing to drop that “maximalist” approach. Earlier reports have also indicated that the EU may step back from demanding British fishing waters.
“There have been hints of a possible reconciliation of approaches,” a European official told the news wire service on Tuesday in the first sign of the EU yielding to the UK in negotiations.
The change of tune may be a result of Britain’s trade negotiator to Brussels David Frost writing to his EU counterpart Michel Barnier last week: “What is on offer is not a fair free trade relationship between close economic partners, but a relatively low-quality trade agreement coming with unprecedented EU oversight of our laws and institutions.”
However, the source indicated that any step-down might be conditional on a “compromise” from the UK.
Eurocrat Doesn’t Like Britain’s ‘Tone’, Rejects Calls for a Better Trade Deal https://t.co/UyYcKJwlb4
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 21, 2020
“We would be looking to shift on demands to keep everything as is now, a somewhat maximalist opening position, if the UK also moved from its position of coastal attachment. That’s where the room for compromise lies,” they said.
The UK, however, has maintained that it will not continue to surrender its fishing waters to France and others, and the government confirmed this month that its no-deal planning committee would be meeting more frequently in the event that the two parties cannot agree on a deal.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has said that regaining full, uncompromised access to British fishing waters will be the “acid test” of whether the 2016 vote to Leave has been delivered.