The bloc’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has clashed with UK representatives as trade talks edge nearer to a no deal scenario on January 1. The EU wants to ensure that its fishermen keep access to the UK’s fishing grounds, but has also warned Britain it must conform to the bloc’s trading standards if it wants access to European markets. But, while Mr Barnier has offered little in the way of concessions during talks, French President Emmanuel Macron has also been difficult to win round. Earlier this month, a leaked diplomatic note suggested that France is poised to veto a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU if Paris is unhappy with the terms of the agreement.
Bloomberg reported that the internal document reveals how the French ambassador to the EU yesterday “warned chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier of how bad it would look if he brokered a deal only to see it vetoed by EU leaders”.
The move was described as a “veiled threat” and an attempt to pile pressure on Mr Barnier.
The position was backed by Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark, while “several ambassadors pressed to see draft text so that they could have enough time to scrutinise it properly”.
Meanwhile, another EU diplomat told the Times that “as we are entering the endgame of Brexit negotiations, some member states are becoming a bit jittery.”
They added: “So this was mostly an exercise to calm nerves in Paris and elsewhere, and to reassure member states that Team Barnier will continue to defend core EU interests.”
This isn’t the first time coastal countries in the EU have united to boost their interests in trade talks.
Brussels came under pressure from seven countries who were furious with a proposed arrangement.
France led calls among European Union states for changes to the draft agreement on Britain’s exit from the bloc.
The row erupted in November 2018 as France spearheaded a group of states in raising objections to what had so far been agreed on fishing between the EU and UK.
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But fisheries remains one of the key issues still to be settled in talks.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen told Express.co.uk earlier this year that the EU’s fisheries demands are “absurd.”
He said: “It’s like someone renting a property off you, terminating the agreement, and then demanding they keep 80 percent of the back garden.
“Who is going to agree to that? That’s not how it works. It’s absurd.
“There is no court in the world the EU could go to that would uphold their right to keep our sovereign fishing grounds.”