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Barnier to hold urgent meeting with EU fishing ministers to plea for Brexit compromise | Politics | News

The meeting was announced as insiders said the negotiations over the future relationship pact are “completely stuck”. But British officials insisted they wound’t cave in to demands for near-parity access for EU vessels to the country’s waters. Mr Barnier  is expected to warn Ministers Downing Street is refusing to drop its demands for full control over UK fishing grounds and a significant boost in quota shares.

He believes a concession on fisheries could pave the way for No10 offering more generous terms in the stand-off over state aid rules.

One source told Express.co.uk: “That’s the price the UK needs to pocket for a compromise on the level playing field.”

Mr Barnier will also brief EU27 ambassadors on the state of play ahead of a make-or-break weekend of negotiations.

Sources on both sides have claimed they are still “far apart” on fishing and negotiators have made no new progress. 

An insider said: “There are no new details and negotiations are completely stuck.”

But Mr Barnier still holds out hope a deal can be reached if UK counterpart Lord Frost agrees to a last-minute trade-off between fisheries and the bloc’s level playing field demands.

Under the plan, Britain would secure complete control of its coastal waters and a big boost for its fishermen but would sign up to tough competition rules set by Brussels.

Eurocrats have warned if a deal isn’t struck by next Wednesday it can’t be fully ratified by the European Parliament before the end of the year.

British officials played down chances of an immediate breakthrough, insisting they would not row back on Downing Street’s pledge to take back control of our laws, borders and coastal waters.

A UK source said: “We’ve been clear all along about our fundamental principles and we are working hard to find a deal that meets them.”

After reports that the EU’s chief negotiator had threatened to abandon talks with Britain, his team are yet to confirm whether he will travel to London.

On Wednesday Brussels sources said Mr Barnier told Lord Frost the EU team will travel to London for negotiations only if he felt a breakthrough could be made this weekend.

MUST READ: Europe Brexit PANIC: No deal risks over 100,000 jobs as crunch talks

Ursula von der Leyen has urged EU leaders to back a Brexit compromise with Boris Johnson

The Commission chief told the EU Parliament she could not say if the trade and security deal would be reached in the “very little time ahead.

“These are decisive days for negotiations. Frankly, I cannot tell you today if in the end there will be a deal.”

She pledged to let Mr Barnier push his negotiating mandate to its limits to find solutions, saying: “We will do all in our power to reach an agreement. We’re ready to be creative.”

EU leaders would also have to throw their weight behind the compromise to stop negotiations collapsing, she added.

The bloc is expected to rubber-stamp its future relationship with the UK on December 10.


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