Hopes of a trade agreement between the UK and the EU appear to be one step closer after Michel Barnier appeared to compromise on the issue of fishing rights.
The EU’s chief negotiator confirmed that Brussels would be willing to divide the fishing quotas according to data which would reflect the number of fish in British waters.
The scientific data would be used to determine how long fish remain in British waters and would use variables such as the temperature changes in the water. The two sides would also need to agree on when EU fishing vessels could fish in British waters.
Known as ‘zonal attachment’, the British fishing boats would be able to catch fish in relation to how long the fish had been in British territory.
Zonal attachment is though to accommodate the changing water temperatures due to climate change which it is believed has driven more fish into British waters.
Brussels also backtracked on previous requirements requesting that EU fishing fleets had the same access rights as their British counterparts, admitting that the policy was “clearly not” balanced.
Mr Barnier previously announced that the EU was willing to be more “creative” in other ways in order to find an agreement and keep the negotiations moving forward.
Fisheries policy has been a sticking point in recent negotiations with Britain wanting a system based on yearly quotas. The EU, on the other hand, wants a deal to be a part of a larger comprehensive trade agreement.
A recent transcript from a meeting that was held on June 23 which was published earlier this week quotes Barnier saying “I am waiting with much patience for a reply from the British side.
“If there is no response, there will be no agreement on fisheries and no agreement on trade.”
He continued, “You can discuss fishing stocks regularly every year in the light of the scientific advice, so that we can protect resources and biodiversity, but negotiating access to waters and the fish in those waters every year would be impossible for 100-odd species.
“There will be no trade agreement with the UK if there is no balanced agreement on fisheries.
“Is this ‘balanced agreement’ the British position, as it is now? Certainly not.
“Is it the European position as it is today? Clearly not.”
Barnier also hinted that yearly talks on fishing rights could be possible.
The news comes after recent Brexit talks finished early last week after the two sides failed to find a way forward to work through their ‘significant differences’.
Image Credit: DG EMPL on Flickr
January 14, 2021