While the two sides in the Brexit talks – the United Kingdom and the European Union, have apparently reduced their differences with relation to fishing rights to European vessels in British sea waters starting 2021, this politically sensitive issue still stands in the way of the two sides striking a Brexit trade deal with just a couple of weeks left for Britain to officially leave the 27 member single market and the customs union which means that the current free trade between to the trading partners will also come to an end.
It has been months that the two sides have been negotiating with each other to come to an agreement on a host of issues that will govern their relationship after Brexit – ranging from trade to transport to energy. The talks are believes to be in the final stages even as EU and other countries have also suspended most travel to and from Britain in order to prevent a new strain of the novel coronavirus from spreading.
“It seems we are crossing the line,” an EU diplomat was quoted in a Reuters report as saying. The diplomat reportedly added that the two sides were getting closer to come to an agreement on trade after Brexit.
According to reports, reducing the value of the EU’s catch of fish in British waters by about 30 per cent starting in 2021 was a bit too high, said EU officials and diplomats. They have said that the maximum that the EU would be willing to go down to was 25 per cent, said reports.
This number was however just one of the sticking points in the negotiations over fishing rights. Other sticking points on the issue included the length of the transition period beyond December 31, the last of the UK in the EU, as well as how the EU could retaliate if Britain refuses to allow EU fishing vessels into its water, which are being considered ot be equally important.
According to the sources quoted in the reports, a deal on trade was possible any time – this week, next week, or even not at all.
In a phone call on Monday, talks on Brexit negotiations as well as on the pandemic were held between the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said reports quoting information from sources in the EU and there would be more such phone discussions as and when needed.
The EU, a trading bloc of 450 million consumers, was officially left by the UK, the sixth biggest economy of the world, in January this year. A trade deal between the two parties is critical for both because the mutual annual trade between the UK and the EU is around a trillion dollars which could be subject to tariffs and other trade barriers starting Janury 1 next year without a free trade agreement.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)