Macron ‘tones down’ demands on UK fishing waters as Brexit deadline looms

Brexit: Macron has 'toned down' fishing demands says Xafa

Fishing has been one of the most contentious issues in the negotiations with the bloc, with France reportedly discontent with the UK’s proposals for reducing quotas for EU skippers. But IMF Executive board member Miranda Xafa claimed Emmanuel Macron was less insistent on French positions during the EU summit. President Macron said he hoped Britain and the EU could find a deal on their future relationship that would respect both sides and preserve European interests.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Ms Xafa said: “Angela Merkel holds the presidency in the EU and she calls the shots essentially.

“But France is the country next to the UK and they want to hang on to their fishing rights.

“After having watched President Macron’s statement after the EU summit, I thought it was much more toned down than his usual tone where he really insisted on the French positions.

“It seems like there has been give and take between the German presidency and the French President.”

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It comes as four Royal Navy boats are on standby to patrol UK fishing waters in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The 80-metre vessels would guard British waters from EU trawlers in the event that there is no new agreement on fishing rights after December 31 when transitional arrangements end.

The confirmation of the move by the Ministry of Defence comes as Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen warned on both sides of the Channel that a no-deal outcome looked more likely than an agreement in the trade negotiations.

On Friday afternoon Mr Johnson met with senior minister Michael Gove, whose has responsibility for Brexit planning, and other officials to “take stock” of Government plans for a no-deal exit.

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A spokesman for the MoD said: “The MoD has conducted extensive planning and preparation to ensure that defence is ready for a range of scenarios at the end of the transition period.

“This preparation includes a standby package of 14,000 personnel to ensure that we are ready to support other Government departments and authorities over the winter period, including with the EU transition, Covid-19 and potential severe weather events.”

Norway may close access to its fishing waters to European and British vessels from January 1, its fisheries minister said on Friday, because a trilateral fisheries deal Oslo wants with the European Union and Britain has not been concluded.

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Following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, Oslo also negotiates with London over reciprocal access. Britain completes is departure from the EU’s orbit on Dec. 31.

In September, Norway and Britain concluded a bilateral fisheries deal.

But before any bilateral deals can kick in, Oslo wants a trilateral deal between Norway, the EU and Britain to be in place, and negotiations on this have not yet started, Fisheries and Seafood Minister Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen said.

Mr Ingebrigtsen told Parliament: “If we do not get a deal by January 1, we will not open Norway’s economic fishing zones to vessels from the EU and Britain.”

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