Brussels is planning on compromising “in a big way” on fisheries in September or October, according to leading Brussels insiders. Michel Barnier will back down on the EU’s red line on fisheries at the last moment, according to RTE London Correspondent Seán Whelan. Speaking on the RTE’s Brexit podcast, Whelan said that Brussels will not surrender on its red lines right now, with talks expected to continue until autumn.
However, in a move that will infuriate French President Emmanuel Macron, the EU could back down on its hardline demands for a long-term, fixed agreement on fisheries similar to the current Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Mr Macron has driven the EU’s fisheries demands, given the reliance among the French fishing industry on British waters.
However, Whelan explained: “There is no appetite for EU to change the mandate they gave to Michel Barnier right now. Boris Johnson seemed to accept that EU won’t relax its mandate at the moment.
“Overall, all sides on the EU side believe it is not the time to compromise in the big way.”
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He added: “They would rather do that in September or October. They don’t believe the time is right to shift on its positions.
“They will not compromise now, they will budge in September or October. That is the orthodoxy around Brussels at the moment.”
RTE’s Europe Editor Tony Connelly added: “Germany, which is taking over the presidency of the EU this month, wants to first focus on the coronavirus recovery fund and the next seven year budget.”
Whelan continued: “Fishing is a passionate issue. The EU wants a deal that essentially replicates the common fisheries policy, a fixed set-up.
Any shift from the status quo on fisheries could also be vetoed by the European Parliament which has overwhelmingly voted to veto any Brexit deal that does not meet MEPs demands on fishing.
Speaking in the European Parliament, Mr Bellamy said: “This is such a fundamental principle that Mr Barnier pushes with such force during negotiations.
“There can be no agreement with the UK if we do not also have a balanced, sustainable, long-term agreement on fisheries.”
This comes as Boris Johnson threatened to walk away from talks after Angela Merkel warned Britain would have to “live with the consequences” of Brexit.