Brexit negotiators are braced for the prospect of talks continuing until close to christmas, after an inconclusive weekend of negotiations this weekend, dominated by discussions over fishing rights.
British officials have warned “significant differences” remain between the two sides, with just ten days to go until the UK exits the single market.
David McAllister, the EU parliament’s lead representative on Brexit said: “After intensive negotiations this week, there is still no clarity whether an agreement for the future UK-EU relations will be reached or not,”
The talks over the weekend focused on the EU offer to sacrifice 25% of its€650m of fishing rights in UK waters. The cut would be linked to a transition period of six years during which EU fishing fleets would be assured of their right to enter UK waters.
The UK has demanded a greater share of stocks and a shorter transition period. Boris Johnson has appealed for the EU to “see sense” on this issue.
Even on the other side of the channel, the 25% offer from Brussels provoked outrage, with the European Fisheries Alliance arguing it would be a “huge blow” to the fishing industry.
Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier has argued after the transition period, a mechanism would need to be put in place that would allow the EU to hit UK products, notably fish, with tariffs if Britain closed off its waters to EU boats.
The UK government have confirmed there will be no extension to the 31 December deadline. An aide to Boris Johnson said: “The process is ongoing and feels like it has a bit of distance still to run,
We have time left to resolve this one way or another — what’s absolutely certain is we won’t sign an unbalanced deal. If this isn’t settled by January 1, that’s it. No negotiation next year.”