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The UK and EU are set for crunch talks on fisheries as the UK hopes to gain sole control of its waters while Brussels looks to keep access to British grounds. French President Emmanuel Macron has become a major hurdle during negotiations, showing reluctance to make concessions on fishing. This has sparked fears among officials in Brussels that a wider trade deal could be thwarted by Mr Macron’s demands. EU negotiator Michel Barnier is to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, signalling that the bloc could be internally negotiating concessions that could be granted to the UK.
It comes after Britain offered a three-year transition period for European fishing fleets to allow them to prepare for the post-Brexit changes.
In June, the French President’s party allies warned European leaders that the UK must not be better off outside of the bloc.
Jean-Pierre Pont, a member of parliament for Mr Macron’s party who represents the town of Boulogne on the English Channel, said: “The (European) Union must continue to guarantee that fishing won’t be sacrificed to save other sectors.
“The government must stay as firm as possible. Britain can’t be better off outside than inside.”
Recently, Mr Macron claimed European vessels will be granted a deal allowing continued access in British waters.
He said: “Some kind of transitional arrangement is one of the things under discussion.
“The key point for us is the destination. We must have absolute certainty that at the end of this we have access to the full quota shares that we as an independent coastal state have a right to expect.
“There is a deal to be done which does allow EU vessels to fish in UK waters in return for movement towards zonal attachment.”
France is one of many nations dependent on British fishing grounds.
Between 2012-2016 for example, France caught 120,000 tonnes of fish worth £171million, according to Marine Management Organisation figures.
The French President was warned that Brexit could hurt fishermen south of the Channel, especially if a deal between the UK and the EU isn’t reached.
Former Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay warned Mr Macron of this in August last year, while insisting that French coastal communities that are reliant on access to British fishing waters would feel the brunt of a hard Brexit.
He said: “In the event of a no deal exit, access to UK waters falls entirely within our country.
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“That, of course, has a potential impact on the French fishing industry.
“Of the 250,000 tonnes of fish processed in Boulogne, the majority comes from UK waters and of the fish landed by French vessels, 40 percent of it comes from UK waters.
“At the same time, about 80,000 tonnes of our salmon, scallops and other seafood products end up on the French table each year.
“You are a significant export market for us.”
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