Fish Scupper: EU and EU fail to bridge gaps on fisheries

The UK and European Union have so far failed to reach agreements on the three most contentious issues in their ongoing trade talks, both sides said.

The pair have not been able to reach agreements on fisheries, the so-called level playing field, and settling future disputes between Britain and the EU.

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The impasse comes despite almost two weeks of intensive talks in a last-ditch attempt to strike a deal for when Britain’s transition agreement with the bloc comes to an end on 31 December.

Any deal to smooth billions of pounds of trade between the pair needs to be agreed by 15 November to give it time to be ratified by the EU before the transition period expires.

An update on the talks’ progress and the chances of a deal being struck is expected tomorrow or Thursday. Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said last week that “much remains to be done” before an agreement is reached. 

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A European Commission spokesperson said negotiators have not yet found a deal on sharing access to fishing waters after the post-Brexit transition period ends in December. 

“We have not yet found a solution on fisheries,” a Commission spokesperson said. They said “a lot more work remains to be done to get a deal”, adding: “we are not there yet”. 

A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We’ll only be able to make progress if the EU accepts the reality that the UK will have the right to control access to its waters at the end of this year.”

“There are significant gaps that do remain between our positions in the most difficult areas, and there is much work still to be done if we are to bridge those gaps.”

The Commission also said it would consider escalating its legal dispute with the UK over its violation of the Brexit withdrawal treaty. 

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The bloc sent London a formal letter of notice at the start of last month over the UK’s internal market bill – which Britain has admitted breached international law by breaching its earlier Brexit divorce settlement with the bloc.

The Commission spokesperson said that Britain had failed to reply and that the EU would therefore now consider the next step in the legal dispute – a reasoned opinion.

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