Published On: Tue, Oct 13th, 2020

Brexit news: Germany loses cool over Brexit talks as Boris holds firm | Politics | News

Europe minister Michael Roth said both sides face a “worst-case scenario” of a no-deal Brexit unless they can make “substantial progress” in the coming days. He insisted the issues of fisheries, state subsidies policy and enforcement of any agreement remain the main sticking points in the wrangling over a UK-EU free-trade agreement. Speaking ahead of a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg, Mr Roth said: “Frankly speaking, we are at a critical stage of the negotiations. We are extremely under pressure, time is running out, that’s we expect substantial progress by our friends in the UK in key areas, in particular governance, the level playing field and fisheries.

“We are well prepared for both scenarios, everybody should know that. No deal is the worst case scenario, not just for the European Union but also for the UK, but we are prepared for that.

“We are working very hard on a good deal, on a sustainable deal, which is acceptable for both sides.”

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, will update ministers on the “state of play” in the recent Brexit trade talks with the UK.

The Frenchman is then expected to dash back to Brussels to continue negotiations with UK counterpart Lord Frost.

Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic will also reveal information from his recent discussions with Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove on “how to properly and timely implement the Withdrawal Agreement”.

Pressure is mounting on Mr Barnier not to make significant concessions in order to reach a compromise with Britain.

Finnish Europe minister Tytti Tuppurainen said: “Of course, we do want to have an agreement with the UK, but not with any cost.”

French Europe minister Clement Beaune said: “The 27 EU countries need to have a very united and firm position on the priorities of the Brexit negotiation: fishing, of course, fair trade to have access to the European market because otherwise we would have an unfair competition not to be accepted by our citizens and companies, and finally the rule of law.”

Allies of Emmanuel Macron have also heaped pressure on the bloc to protect the interests of French fishermen.

They have threatened to block a deal unless EU fishermen are guaranteed “continuous access to British waters and fish”.

French MEPs Nathalie Loiseau and Pierre Karleskind want their colleagues to vote down any trade agreement that lacks this pledge.

In a leaked memo, seen by the Daily Express, they set out plans to issue a public threat to heap pressure on Mr Johnson – any post- Brexit deal must be ratified by the EU Parliament.

The members of Mr Macron’s En Marche party wrote: “These negotiations are coming to an end… there won’t be a free trade agreement without a balanced, sustainable and long-term agreement on fisheries. There is nothing that would change our minds.

“The EU negotiating stance is simple and transparent: to protect the interests of EU citizens.”

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