Hopes of securing a Brexit deal are growing fainter in Downing Street amid reports that Michel Barnier, EU chief negotiator, has lost control of talks on fishing rights. The UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, had wanted to discuss fishing quotas during the fourth round of trade talks but the European Commission was not able to able to discuss details because of, essentially, meddling led by France.
Barnier had been told by France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands not to compromise on quotas that give EU boats the lion’s share of fish.
After the latest talks failed to go anywhere, both the EU and the UK said that there had been no progress made. Barnier added, "the EU wants the status quo, the UK wants to change everything".
After the latest negotiations failed to break the deadlock, both sides said on Friday there had been no progress towards an agreement, says The Guardian.
Barnier said “the EU wants the status quo, the UK wants to change everything”, but called for discussions “somewhere between”. For its part, the UK government has stressed that the onus lies with Barnier to encourage EU states to compromise.
“The round that we have just had is disappointing, very disappointing… They seek to have the same benefits of a member state of our single market without the same rights and obligations,”
The UK’s summing up was just as grim. David Frost told Prime Minister Johnson that Mr Barnier is “losing the argument”, but negotiations could still end in no deal.
Mr Frost has gone on to warn Mr Johnson the EU is going to carry on pushing for the ECJ (European Court of Justice) to have a say in British Affairs, even if the Prime Minister were to intervene personally in a bid to break the deadlock.
A source has told British newspaper The Telegraph that Mr Barneir’s attacks were “bewildering” and that the EU’s “arguments on the merits are not working…”
What trading under these terms means is that any advantages the UK offers the EU in trade would have to be offered to everyone under the Most Favoured Nation rules. At the same time, the EU would begin border checks on UK products – something the UK government has repeatedly said cannot, will not happen with Ireland.
The answer to the question “is Brexit still happening” is simultaneously easy and difficult. The easy part is yes, it is happening. The harder part is that we don’t know what form it will take. Will the EU give in on their fishing demands or will the UK leave without a deal? What will the future look like in either of those scenarios? We will find out at least half of the answer on the 31st of December.