The deadline for the EU and UK to reach a deal – the end of this year – is fast approaching, but Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier has warned an agreement by then is unlikely as the fisheries row holds up negotiations. He said last month: “The UK is effectively asking for near total exclusion of EU fishing vessels from UK waters. That is simply unacceptable.” He added that the EU was willing to accept that “there may be change to the benefit of UK fishermen” but that it would not be at the price of the “destruction of the EU fishing industry”.
Mr Barnier continued: “Over the past few weeks the UK has not shown the same level of engagement and readiness to find solutions respecting the EU fundamental principles and interests.
“It means simply that by its current refusal to commit to the condition of open and fair competition, and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes a trade agreement at this point unlikely.”
Figures from the EU have been confident from the get go that the UK will fold on its promise to Leave voters that Britain will take sole control of its waters.
This was clear when the former MEP and Vice Chair of the EU Fisheries Committee – Linnea Engstrom – cast doubt on UK fishermen’s future post-Brexit.
She said in an interview that UK fishermen had been fed “immense lies”.
She said: “I think this shows the immense lies told to the British people and British fishermen.
“We have been fishing in each other’s waters for centuries, since medieval times, so there is no possibility of closing them off.”
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He said: “What are you going to do if the south of Spain doesn’t have paella and its shellfish?
“The Spanish tourist trade is going to go into the ground, so you desperately need our fish, and we have the fishing grounds.”
Many fishing communities in Europe rely on UK fishing waters, but British fishermen also export much of their landing to the EU.
In 2018, statistics from the International Trade Commission showed the UK exported £1.34 billion-worth of seafood and aquatic products.
That same year the UK exported £489million worth of seafood and aquatic products to France, making the UK’s nearest neighbor in continental Europe its biggest export market.
In total, 71 percent of UK exports went to EU countries.