EU finally budging? Von der Leyen to meet Rutte as tensions over fishing near crunch point

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

The European Commission President is meeting the Dutch Prime Minister in The Hague on Friday to discuss a number of issues including Brexit. Mr Rutte is among the EU leaders taking a hard line on fishing – one of the final sticking points in negotiations between Brussels and Britain.

The meeting between Ms von der Leyen and Mr Rutte comes as trade talks resumed in London on Thursday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week warned the UK would walk away with no deal unless there was a major change in approach from the EU.

Fishing has proved a huge stumbling block in negotiations led by Lord Frost and Michel Barnier.

The UK has insisted it will hold the right to control who can fish in British waters when the transition period comes to a close at the end of the year.

But the stance will likely result in a lower fish quota for European fishermen.

It was previously reported that Britain offered the EU a three-year buffer period to ease the impact of any reduction in the amount of fish that European boats can catch in UK waters.

The concession would see fishing quotas for European trawlers scaled back gradually between 2021 and 2024.

Earlier this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was told to put pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron over his fishing demands. 

Jörg Krämer of Commerzbank told FinanzBusiness: “The federal government should put pressure on France.

“A free trade agreement must not fail because of the interests of the fisheries, whose macroeconomic importance is negligible.”

Mr Macron is refusing to compromise on fishing for the sake of a deal between the UK and the EU.

Brexit LIVE: Barnier names only stumbling block to trade deal [LIVE BLOG]
Michel Barnier issues urgent Brexit update as he arrives in London [INSIGHT]
EU STILL treating UK as a ‘vassal state’ after Brexit – Finnish MEP [VIDEO]

Speaking at the EU summit last Thursday, the French President said: “Under any circumstance, our fishermen should not be sacrificed for Brexit.

“If these conditions are not met, it’s possible we won’t have a deal.

“If the right terms can’t be found at the end of these discussions, we’re ready for a no deal for our future relations.”

Following Mr Johnson’s warning in his televised statement last Friday, Mr Barnier has indicated the EU is willing to compromise.

The EU chief negotiator told the European Parliament on Wednesday: “We will seek the necessary compromises on both sides in order to do our utmost to reach an agreement and we will do so right up until the last day which it’s possible to do so.”

Downing Street said Mr Johnson and Michael Gove made clear the EU had to show it was serious about talking intensively and finally accept it was dealing with an “independent and sovereign country”.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said: “We welcome the fact that Mr Barnier acknowledged both points this morning, and additionally that movement would be needed from both sides in the talks if agreement was to be reached.

“As he made clear, ‘any future agreement will be made in respect of the decision-making autonomy of the European Union and with respect for British sovereignty.’”

Source: Read Full Article