Catch up on Brexit: Barnier is still patient and the fish is paid dearly | NOW

Brexit is back. The British have now left the European Union, but the two parties are still arguing about their future relationship. Time is running out and the news is piling up quickly, so we’ll have a quick update on what happened this week.

While there has been regular talk in recent times about a deal within reach, the tone has been a lot less optimistic this week. Diplomats say the top negotiator behind closed doors “did not paint a rosy picture of the negotiations”. Barnier would also have threatened not to come to London earlier this week, if the British did not adopt a more flexible attitude.

On Saturday, however, representatives from both sides resumed physical negotiations in London. EU chief negotiator Barnier said he was “happy” to be back in the UK capital, reported Reuters. According to the Frenchman, the last weeks before December 31 is all about “patience and determination”. Now that December is just around the corner, there seems to be little room left for patience.

Barnier and his British colleague David Frost would have to agree on three more issues: state aid, resolving future (trade) conflicts and fishing.

Three tricky issues

In the field of state aid, the EU would like to see an independent regulator set up. Although the British still have their doubts about this. The Johnson government is especially against a mechanism that would allow Brussels to impose sanctions on the UK in the event of unlawful state aid. The UK is in favor of an independent regulator, but wants to prevent the EU from interfering with British government policy at all costs.

Concerns about resolving future conflicts seem to exist particularly on the EU side. Trust in the UK has been severely damaged by Boris Johnson’s Brexit law, which undermined several earlier agreements between Brussels and London. The EU therefore wants to be able to take retaliatory measures if the British violate any trade agreement. However, the British Prime Minister wants fisheries and security policy to be excluded from these agreements.

The most delicate issue is and remains fishing. For months now, the power blocs have been unable to agree on appropriate regulations. On January 1, the UK will no longer be part of the Common Fisheries Policy. For example, there is disagreement about the fishing quota. This is determined by the EU on the basis of what is responsible for the different fish species. In the event of a no-deal, the scenario threatens that the British will no longer allow European fishermen in their waters rich in fish.

If the parties cannot agree on this tricky issue, there would still be the possibility of moving negotiations on this particular issue to next year. But there is also a lot of disagreement about the duration of this special clause.


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