Macron in crisis: French President desperate to ‘save face’ after humiliation on fisheries

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Emmanuel Macron will surrender to the UK’s fisheries at the final moment of the Brexit talks, according to a leading EU expert. Catherine Barnard, who serves as professor of European Law at Cambridge University, suggested that Mr Macron knows he has to back down over the deadlocked fisheries dispute. However, she claimed the French President “can’t concede too much too early,” which is why “this deal will go up to the wire” as Mr Macron scrambles to save face. 

Speaking to Sky News, Professor Barnard said the French President is concerned about protests on the street of France if he gives up fisheries too early.

She explained: “It’s important to remember it’s not just the UK that has politics.

“The French President is acutely aware there are important elections in Calais next year, and of course it is the Calais fishermen who he is most worried about.

“He can’t be seen to be conceding too much too early, otherwise it creates domestic problems at home.

“That is why this deal will go up to the wire.”

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She added that the final crunch date for a deal to be agreed is mid-November.

Professor Barnard explained: “On balance there probably will be a deal but there is scope for things to go wrong or things just to go wrong.

“We always knew the crunch point would be the first couple weeks in November.

“Neither side wanted a deal too early, because then there would be time for it to be unpicked.

“Most sides have an interest of this going right up to the wire.

“If there is a deal, it has to go through the European Parliament, and the last sitting of that is in mid-December.

“Before that, they need a text, that needs to be legally checked and all the member-states need to have a look at it as well.”


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Mr Macron’s tough line on fishing rights is seen as one of the last remaining obstacles to an agreement.

Privately, he has admitted to cabinet ministers that the French fishermen will have to accept a lower catch than they currently do.

One fishermen involved in behind the scenes talks with the French government echoed this, telling reporters: “They said it won’t be the same as before. For me it’s clear, they want to try to limit damages as much as possible.”

Mr Macron also faces a growing swell of pressure from Germany and other EU states to accept less access to British waters.

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