EU rejects latest UK offer on fisheries but Johnson giving ground to reach deal

Tue 22 Dec 2020
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

brexit argument

The EU has knocked back a UK offer on fisheries that would have allowed European fleets to retain access to UK waters and almost a third of the value of its catch.

PM Boris Johnson spoke to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen twice yesterday to try to reach a deal, according to Bloomberg.

The UK’s proposal would have seen the value of fish caught by EU boats in British waters shrink by 30% – a substantially smaller drop than the 60% it was demanding last week.

However, the EU is holding out for a reduction of 25%, though countries like France and Denmark are pressuring Brussels for even less, according to officials with knowledge of the discussions.

Longer transition – for fisheries

According to the Times, the UK offer would also have included a ‘compensation mechanism’ for communities most affected by the changing quotas.

The PM has also accepted that a transition period for the new fish rules could last five years rather than the three he had previously pushed for. The EU had been vying for a seven to 10-year transition. 

Bloomberg reports that the EU wants to be able to impose tariffs on the UK if, in future, the government restricts access to its waters. In its latest compromise offer, the UK said it would accept tariffs on fisheries but not in other areas such as energy, as demanded by the EU.

New deadlines but no extension 

PM Boris Johnson says he will not extend the transition period despite the recent uncertainty caused by the new strain of the coronavirus in south east England, the BBC reports

With just over a week until the end of the transition period, several politicians are urging him to seek an extension, including Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Tory MP Tobias Ellwood.

Officials have told Politico that the latest deadline for the talks is tomorrow if the deal is to be implemented before the end of the year.  

However, the same officials admit this latest ultimatum could be broken. They say if the UK and EU start next year without a deal, emergency measures could be introduced as a bridge between the end of transition and the implementation of a deal signed towards the very end of this year.