Brexit: EU ‘acting like mafia’ over fishing says columnist
MEPs voted overwhelmingly to support the plans drawn up by eurocrats after a recent call between Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Boris Johnson. Last week the European Commission set out contingency measures under which British airlines may be banned from flying to European destinations if the UK refuses to follow the bloc’s demands for a “level playing field”. The EU would insist Britain continue to follow Brussels’ competition rules as the price for allowing planes to fly or British lorries to continue operating across the bloc for six months.
Eurocrats also drew up plans calling for the Government to allow EU fishing boats into UK waters until December 31, 2021.
In a series of votes, the European Parliament largely backed all of the measures that would be rolled out in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The MEPs voted 695 to three, with two abstentions to for the transport links to be maintained if trade talks fail.
And they voted 686 to three, with six abstentions, to extend an offer for Britain to reopen its fishing waters.
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British officials have already rejected the EU’s offer to keep reciprocal offer to keep fishing grounds open in the event of no deal.
In a series of private briefings, EU Brexit chief Michel Barnier told colleagues that failure to strike an agreement could result in fresh “sector-by-sector” talks that could drag on until 2026.
The Frenchman, who is set to retire at the end of the year, said his replacement will take a “different approach” to future wrangling over a future relationship pact with Britain.
He said any talks after no deal would mirror the EU’s negotiations with Canada, which took five-and-a-half years to produce a trade pact.
According to a source familiar with the discussions, Mr Barnier told MEPs: “If these negotiations cannot be completed by December 31, we will continue beyond that.
“And, of course, we will continue with the UK. Our door will always remain open, but the context will be different.”
He said future talks between the UK and EU would take the shape of a “more normal negotiation with a third country”.
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British officials have warned there is no guarantee they will return for fresh talks with the bloc in 2021, with the Prime Minister insisting the UK can still “prosper mightily” without an agreement.
Treasury minister Stephen Barclay said the EU needs to move if a deal is to be reached.
He said: “The discussions are ongoing. The fundamentals remain the same. It is in both sides’ interest to have a deal. That is what the Prime Minister has committed to.
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“The Prime Minister is battling for Britain. And whether there is a deal is not simply down to the actions of the Prime Minister, it needs the EU to move to respond to the precedent that they have given other countries.”
The talks continue in Brussels today with EU and UK officials expecting to continue working into the weekend.
MPs are ready to sit over the festive period to vote on a deal if one can be reached before the end of the transition period on December 31.
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