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Brexit talks between the UK and the European Union ended prematurely on Thursday with outstanding issues remaining over trade and fisheries. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has demanded a level playing field with the UK over trade as well as access to UK fishing waters after the transition period – something his counterpart David Frost has rejected.
Britain is on course to leave the controversial Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) next year and become an independent coastal state – free to set its own tariffs and quotas on stocks.
Following the breakdown of talks, fishing expert and CEO of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisation Barrie Deas, has warned French fisherman could block UK ports if its fisherman have reduced access to UK waters.
The proposition of a stand-off in the English Channel has prompted a furious response from a number of Express.co.uk readers, who let their feelings known on the websites Facebook page.
One angry user said: “They’re our waters, we let the EU use them to the detriment of our own fishing industry when we foolishly joined the EU.
“The French or any EU country does not have the right to fish in our sovereign territory unless we say so.”
A second reader said: “They have plundered our fish stocks long enough- time to give nature a rest, and to give our fishermen the rights to fish unhindered in our own waters!”
A third commented: “Typical of macron wants everything his own way.
“They are British fishing waters, not French, pay for what you take and only take what we say.”
Meanwhile a fourth simply said: “Our waters our fish they need to accept that.”
Mr Deas explained how a lack of a deal on fisheries would impact the fishing Industry in France.
He claimed the current deal negotiated in 1983, ensured 84 percent of the quota of cod in the English Channel went to France, compared to just nine percent staying in the UK.
He told Express.co.uk: “French fishermen have a long track record of blockading Channel ports when they’re upset about something.
“They’ve done it for much lesser reasons than the UK becoming an independent coastal state, renegotiation of quotas, even if there is access for French fishermen.
“I think it would be naive to expect they will be happy about this or do nothing about it.
“There’s a long history of those kinds of blockades.”
Following the four-days of talks in Brussels, Mr Barnier said there were still “serious divergences” between the two sides.
He said: “Our goal was to get negotiations successfully and quickly on a trajectory to reach an agreement.
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“However, after four days of discussions, serious divergences remain.”
The EU negotiator firmly pointed the blame towards the UK and said the bloc had engaged “constructively” and added officials needed to see an “equivalent engagement from the UK side”.
Mr Frost said: “We have completed our discussion of the full range of issues in the negotiation in just over three days.
“The negotiations have been comprehensive and useful. But they have also underlined the significant differences that still remain between us on a number of important issues.”
The next round of Brexit trade talks will take place next week in London.
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