Panic over British fisheries has rocked Brussels, as the EU prepares for a dramatic showdown between Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson.
Brussels is “really worried” about losing access to British fishing waters, ahead of the trade talks on Monday. The EU are slowly acknowledging that they will have to catipulate to the UK over fishing, according to Georgina Wright of the Institute for Government. However, they are relying on French President Emmanuel Macron to pressure Boris Johnson to also compromise his red lines.
Ms Wright said: “The language that is in this mandate, compared to the draft mandate published at the beginning of the month, is a lot tougher.
“Some members states are really worried, and they think, if they are going to compromise, they want to start high.
“They are doing this potentially knowing it will be a compromise down the line.
“It is something that France is worried about. EU ministers have even said it was a deal breaker.”
She continued: “It is something that the EU will want some clarity and movement on early in the negotiations. They will start to discuss it in a couple weeks.
“And it is not just France that care about the fisheries agreement.
“There are other countries worried as well, but they are lining up quite conveniently behind France and letting France take the lead on this fight.”
Fisheries is set to be a huge flash point in the discussions that start on Monday, after the UK and EU positions announced this week were far apart in agreement.
Earlier this week, the UK had warned the EU it will walk away from trade talks in June unless there is a “broad outline” of a deal.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The UK did not vote twice to take back control of its fishing waters only to give that control up again.
“As a matter of fact, it doesn’t matter what the EU puts in its mandate as we become an independent coastal state on December 31 2020.”
In response, Brussels’ negotiating directives insist a future deal should “aim to avoid economic dislocation for European Union fishermen that have traditionally fished in United Kingdom waters”.
The UK has some of the richest fishing grounds in the world but British vessels only catch less than a third of all fish caught there.
The EU boats catch 43 percent of fish in British waters – compared to just 32 percent for British vessels.
Reports suggest that Spain, France and the EU members around the North Sea have ensured the industry was protected in the EU negotiating mandate.