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No Progress: EU Won’t Drop Demands, UK Won’t Surrender on Fishing

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has accused the UK of backtracking from pledges it made in the Political Declaration, signalling that Brussels would not budge on its demands on fishing and regulatory alignment.

The fourth round of post-Brexit trade negotiations concluded on Friday, with Mr Barnier telling media during a press conference, effectively, that the British government has not moved on its pledges to the British people to regain control of the United Kingdom’s fishing waters, regulations, and laws.

The EU demands continued access to Britain’s territorial fishing waters, with the Common Fisheries Policy currently allowing EU trawlers to land approximately 60 per cent of the fish caught in the waters around the United Kingdom while British fishermen go bust.

Brussels also wants Britain to deliberately make itself less of a competitive threat to the EU by abiding by “level playing field” rules on state aid for British businesses and other issues.

The EU also wants its own European Court of Justice to oversee the governance of any future trade deal.
On all these matters, Mr Barnier said: “This week, there have been no significant areas of progress.”
“On fisheries, the UK has not shown any true will to explore other approaches beyond zonal attachment for the sharing of quotas. They continue to condition access to waters to an annual negotiation, which is not possible for us, not even technically possible. The EU wants to construct a stable, economic partnership. That’s always been our desire,” the former French minister said, signalling that the EU wants a permanent deal, set in stone, on accessing Britain’s territorial waters.
Speaking from the European Commission — the EU’s powerful unelected executive — in Brussels, Belgium, he continued: “I don’t think we can go on like this forever.

“On top of that, the UK has refused to extend the transition period, which would allow us more time for negotiations. We have always been open from our side to extending this period by one or two years… Our door is still open to that end.”
The United Kingdom officially left the EU on January 31st, 2020, but has entered an 11-month “transition period” in which it continues to abide by the EU’s rules on Free Movement and membership of the Single Market and Customs Union.

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