France tells Britain: our fishermen must have access to your waters

·2-min read
The captain of the French trawler "Notre Dame de Boulogne" shows on a navigation chart the median line which separates English and French territorial waters, in the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer

PARIS (Reuters) - France knows that in any post-Brexit trade deal with Britain its fishermen will not maintain their current quotas for catches in British waters, but an accord must be founded on a "large and lasting" access, European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said.

Beaune told the Journal de Dimanche that Britain could not on the one hand want access to the totality of the European Union's single market but on the other set its own terms for fisheries.

"We know that the days of full access to fish quotas in British territorial waters are over," Beaune told the Sunday weekly. "But we must have a large and lasting access."

Last-ditch negotiations to seal a deal will resume on Sunday after stalling on Friday over the three thorny issues of fisheries, ensuring fair competition guarantees and ways to solve future disputes.

It is still unclear whether either Britain or the EU camp is ready to shift its position enough to allow the breakthrough that has proved elusive since Britain left the bloc on Jan. 31 and entered a transition period that runs until the end of 2020.

In the days ahead, both sides would have to decide whether to continue negotiating in the belief a deal is within reach or accept the end-result is a no deal, Beaune said. British talk that a deal could be ratified by all parties in a day was not realistic, he added.

Beaune reiterated France's willingness to use its veto if it deemed any eventual deal to be bad. Asked if there were rifts opening within the EU-27, including between Paris and Berlin, Beaune said Chancellor Angela Merkel supported France's demanding stance.

"The British gamble of a split within the Union failed," Beaune said.

(Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Chris Reese)