Barnier: latest UK offer on fish ‘unacceptable’ as EU negotiators drive a hard bargain

Michel Barnier
The Jacques Delors Institute, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, briefed EU ambassadors this afternoon in Brussels after the EU apparently rejected the latest UK offer on fish. This was despite a telephone call between Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen, according to The Telegraph’s live news feed at just after 3 pm UK time.

Financial Times Brussels correspondent Jim Brunsden, tweeted that the EU has branded the latest UK offer on fish as ‘unacceptable’. It would have required EU fleets to give up 35 percent of their quota excluding pelagic species (fish that live neither close to the bottom nor near the shore), or 60 percent including pelagic species. This is down from the UK’s original proposal of 80 percent of all fish, but is still short of the EU offer to sacrifice just 22.5 percent.

He also said the UK offered ‘no clarity’ on the rights of EU fishermen in the 6–12 nautical mile zone.

Barnier told the ambassadors that the EU has made clear to the British side it is ready to continue the negotiations to the end of the year and beyond, putting the pressure on Boris Johnson to make further concessions or walk-away.

The BBC’s Katya Adler tweeted:

In a second tweet, Adler claims the EU chief negotiator has said, “Progress has been made. Most issues are preliminarily closed or close to being agreed”, but the EU is now driving a hard bargain on fish, betting that Johnson will not walk away and will accede to the demands of member states with significant fishing interests.

The Telegraph says that MPs have been told to standby to vote on a possible deal next week. It is a growing sign of the final choreographed climb down, as the UK continues to buckle and is dragged slowly to face reality.

The news comes as Spain and Gibraltar are apparently close to an agreement that would see the politically sensitive British outpost join the Schengen free-movement area to ease cross-border working, while UK visitors would have to submit themselves to passport control. Gibraltar will join Northern Ireland in coming under EU law. 

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