Brussels (Brussels Morning) Despite some optimism ahead of last weekend, there are no results to announce so far from this weekend’s negotiations in London. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier tweeted on Friday that the ”same significant divergences persist”.
The key question is still fisheries, with the UK insisting on full control of its own waters, according to Reuters. The issue is the quota that the EU side has put forward as a condition for a deal, which the UK would have to agree to in granting access to European fishing vessels in its waters.
With a month to go before the transition period following the UK’s exit from the EU expires, there are reportedly still significant differences to be resolved. Any further issues need to be solved this week, unless the talks are prolonged or prove in vain, in which case the infamous no-deal scenario comes into effect.
Another crunch question concerns competition, meaning that conditions for subsidies and state aid to businesses must be set as agreed by both parties to avoid advantageor other s or disadvantage for one side in the event they insist on different policies regarding support to different sectors of the economy. Talks have already been extended several times, with the added risk of a last minute rush on ratification of an agreement, should one be reached.
EU leaders will meet next week on 10-11 December and review the situation. Interviewed by Radio Times this weekend, the UK foreign minister Dominic Raab said a deal should be within reach this week or perhaps within a few days into next week, which would be right in time for the EU Summit in Brussels.
The tough talks on fisheries signify a return of the controversial issue on the EU’s agenda. Fishing policy has been hotly contested since the first rules were drawn up in 1970 just as the UK, Ireland and Denmark were applying to join the EU. (At the time, Norway was considering membership, but subsequently withdrew).
The EU’s six original member states included a rule granting all EU countries access to all fishing waters, with some exceptions. In its EU accession negotiations 50 years ago, the UK at first refused access to its waters, but relinquished when signing the accession treaty in January 1972.