Barnier panic: EU chief admits Brussels NEEDS trade deal with UK after months of carnage
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The EU’s chief negotiator told colleagues he feels the “weight of responsibility on my shoulders” to find a quality agreement as wrangling over the future relationship pact resumes in London. He believes a deal on trade and security is needed more than ever to help counter the growing terrorism threat and economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Barnier will hold talks with UK counterpart Lord Frost in the British capital today ahead of the November 16 deadline set by the bloc.
The pair failed to make any significant breakthroughs in Brussels last week with the key sticking points of access to British fishing grounds and state subsidies for businesses holding up progress.
Boris Johnson last weekend declared a Brexit deal with the European Union is “there to be done”.
The Prime Minister, who has received a series of briefings from his chief negotiator, said: “I think it’s there to be done, the broad outlines are pretty clear.
“We just need to get them to do it if we can.”
Mr Johnson promised to “redouble efforts to reach a deal” after a weekend call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
In another sign that the Government is closing in on a Brexit deal with Brussels, Dominic Raab claimed there was confidence both sides would find a middle-ground compromise.
The Foreign Secretary said: “There are some core interests at stake for the UK, points of democratic principle around control of our laws, control of our fisheries as an independent coastal state.
“I don’t think we can toss those aside but if the EU shows the flexibility, the goodwill to meet us halfway, I am confident a deal can still be done.”
During a series of private briefings with allies, Mr Barnier said he was ready to compromise on the bloc’s hardline demands to maintain control over Britain’s coastal waters.
The Frenchman, however, accused Lord Frost of deliberately delaying an agreement of a legal text on subsidy controls to build time pressure on the EU.
Environment Secretary George Eustice has also hinted at a possible deal that would grant European vessels access to UK fishing grounds.
He suggested the Government could agree to hand fishing opportunities to the EU fleet on a multi-annual basis.
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Mr Eustice told Sky News: “On fisheries, we’ve always been open to doing a sensible approach looking particularly at agreements that might span a couple, three years for instance.
“We’re going to be sensible in how we approach this but making sure that we have control of our own waters again and controlled access to our waters has always been a red line for us in these negotiations.”
He also insisted Downing Street would reinstate any clauses stripped out of the Internal Market Bill by the House of Lords.
The controversial legislation, which sparked fury in Brussels, gives ministers the power to overwrite sections of last year’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland.
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The Bill is due to be voted on by Peers later this afternoon in a session that is expected to deliver a defeat for the Government.
Mr Eustice said: “We will. The UK Internal Market Bill is not about undermining the Belfast Agreement, it’s about standing behind it, making sure that it works and looking after the interests of Northern Ireland, making sure the peace and stability that’s been hard-won there can carry on.
“The limited number of areas where we took a power subject to Parliament agreeing it, to be able to create legal clarity and legal certainty should there be areas of the joint-committee process in our negotiations with the EU, if there are areas that can’t be agreed, we’ve got to provide that legal certainty and clarity.”
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