The United Kingdom and the European Union’s chief negotiators will meet on Friday to discuss last-minute trade deals that could put an end to the chaotic end to the five – year Brexit crisis.
The United Kingdom left the EU in January, but the two sides are seeking an agreement that will govern nearly a trillion dollars in annual trade before informal membership – the so-called transition period – ends on December 31.
Following threats from Britain to cut the 2020 divorce agreement, and after Johnson briefly withdrew from trade talks on October 16, the EU said it was ready to talk about the draft legal text of an agreement.
“It is important to get back to the table,” EU chief negotiator Michelle Barnier told Reuters, who arrived in London on Thursday. “We have a very common responsibility.”
Barnier, who will meet Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost, said it was “counted every day”.
After some progress on competitive guarantees, including state aid rules, the hardest problem remains for the fish: Johnson insists on regaining control over his waters, but wants access to EU fishing.
When asked if there was a deal, Junior Finance Minister Stephen Barclay said: “I think so.”
“But that agreement needs to reflect the fact that we are leaving the EU, we will regain control of our fisheries,” he told Sky.
Fishing is a major issue
At a meeting with diplomats in Brussels on Wednesday, Bernier said he was only concerned about the fish, a man who attended the closed meeting said.
“Fish is something that needs to be addressed now. Other factors can more or less do it,” the diplomat said.
Fishing alone accounted for only 0.03 per cent of British economic output in 2019, which is a very emotional issue as many Brexit supporters see it as a symbol of the sovereignty that left the EU. Combined with fish and shellfish processing, the sector accounts for 0.1 percent of the country’s GDP.
For French fishermen, British waters are crucial and the lockout is embarrassing to French President Emmanuel Macron.
The United Kingdom first sought membership in the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1961, but Charles de Gaulle vetoed British accession in 1961 and 1967, accusing the British of having “deep enmity” over the European project.
It finally joined in 1973, but on June 23, 2016, the EU voted 52 to 48 percent.
Britain and Japan signed a trade agreement on Friday as it continues to struggle to reach an agreement with its closest trading partners in the EU.