Negotiators for the Brexit deal moved closer to a compromise on fishing rights on Sunday but missed a major decision. Limit, And raise the possibility of weeks without arrangements from January 1 even in the case of agreement.
Teams led by Britain’s chief negotiator, David Frost, and his European counterpart, Michel Barnier, were expected to continue talks on Monday despite the European Parliament’s notice that it will not vote on a deal if it is not secured by midnight Sunday.
A British government source said: “The teams were negotiating throughout the day and expecting to continue tomorrow. The talks are still difficult and there are still major differences. We continue to explore every path to reach an agreement in line with the basic principles that we have entered into the negotiations.”
Frost met Barnier on Sunday afternoon to discuss the latest EU fisheries proposals, and the British side posed a series of questions to answer them on Monday, raising some hope of progress.
Britain’s health minister, Matt Hancock, said the talks were derailed in recent days after “the European Union put some unreasonable demands” on fisheries, but he still hoped to reach an agreement before Christmas. “I am sure that an agreement can be concluded, but it is clear that it needs action on the part of the European Union,” he said.
Failure to meet the European Parliament deadline means that ministers in the Council of the European Union who represent the bloc’s capitals may need to “temporarily implement” an agreement on January 1 to avoid a no-deal exit until Parliament votes later in the month.
If talks continue deeper in December, there may not be time for EU capitals to translate and scrutinize the agreed text, leaving the UK to leave the transition period without new trade and security arrangements with Brussels.
Contingency measures must be agreed to bridge the gap before the deal takes effect, but such a scenario increases the risk of leaving ports and security services in legal limbo.
Bernd Lange, the German chair of Parliament’s Trade Committee, the main body in the chamber’s certification process, tweeted: “The result of tonight’s lack of a deal is clear: [European parliament] He does not know the unified text, and is not in a position to revise before the end of the transition period. So make preparations now for the period of disagreement and agree on emergency measures with the UK. “
The main sticking point in the talks remains the demand for the European Union to be able to implement tariffs or to completely block entry of British goods in case the government closes access to British seas after a transition period to a new phase. Fishing arrangements For European ships.
Under the British proposal, Boris Johnson insists that ships flying the UK flag have exclusive access to an area of 6 to 12 nautical miles off the British coast. It has been hunted for centuries By French and Belgian ships. Such a move would drive some British exports out of their largest markets under the proposal put forward by Brussels.
Barnier tweeted: “In this decisive moment for negotiations, we continue to work hard with David Frost and his team.
“The European Union remains committed to a fair, reciprocal and balanced agreement. We respect the sovereignty of the United Kingdom. We expect the same.
“Both the European Union and the United Kingdom should have the right to set their own laws and control their waters. We must be able to act when our interests are at stake.”
His comments indicated that there was some movement on the issue, as both sides were able to take measures in case their interests were threatened, but British sources played down any suggestion of a breakthrough.
Clement Boone, the French Minister for European Affairs, said he believed the deal with the UK was still feasible.
“We gave ourselves a few more days because we think an agreement is still possible,” he said. “It’s difficult, I’m not sure, but it’s worth a try. More than an agreement, we want a good agreement, especially the preservation of hunting and the terms of fair competition. The negotiations should be concluded in the next few days. We know where our red lines are and what interests we don’t want to sacrifice.” Out. “
All political groups in the European Parliament except for the Greens agreed a deadline for signing on Sunday evening.
Philip Lamberts, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “The position we are defending is that negotiators should be allowed to work until the last minute, simply giving us time in January and February to vet and ratify any agreement. I watch very happily, I must say, because I was so angry at My colleagues and now they will look stupid. “