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Merkel told to pressure Macron into dropping ‘negligible’ Brexit fishing demands

2 min read

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Fishing has proved a major stumbling block in negotiations on a free trade agreement between the UK and the EU, with the French President taking a hard line on the issue. But Jörg Krämer of Commerzbank insisted the German Chancellor should put pressure on Mr Macron to compromise.

He added that it is not worth risking no deal for fishing.

Mr Krämer 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 back down on fishing to reach a post-Brexit agreement.

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.”

Britain 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 could result in a lower fish quota for European fishermen.

It was previously reported that the UK 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 British waters.

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

In a televised statement on Friday, Boris Johnson told the UK to prepare for an Australian-style outcome – which would mean trading on World Trade Organisation rules – unless the EU makes a major change in its approach.

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The Prime Minister expressed disappointment that the bloc is refusing to hand Britain a Canada-style deal.

He blasted: “They want the continued ability to control our destiny and freedom, our fisheries, in a way that is completely unacceptable,” he said.

“Given that this summit appears to explicitly rule out a Canada-style deal, I think that we should ready for January 1 with arrangements that are more like Australia’s.”

Chief negotiators Lord Frost and Michel Barnier spoke on the phone on Monday.

Mr Barnier said the EU was willing to “intensify” negotiations across all subjects.

He added that Brussels was prepared to discuss “legal texts” – which the UK has been pushing for.

But a Downing Street spokesman insisted there was no hope of progress unless the EU dramatically changes in stance.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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