Senior EU leader ridicules UK demand for sovereignty as ‘pathetic’ in stunning outburst
Brexit: Heidi Hautala says talk of sovereignty is 'pathetic'
A senior EU figure has ruthlessly mocked Britain’s key demand for national sovereignty in the Brexit talks. European Parliament Vice President Heidi Hautala told LBC’s Tom Swarbrick that the UK’s fixation on national sovereignty in Brexit talks is “pathetic”. She repeated the claim when Mr Swarbrick challenged the MEP on the stunning remark.
Ms Hautala’s outburst came during a discussion on Britain’s fishing demands.
It follows reports that Michel Barnier has offered to return around 25 percent of the current EU fishing catch in British waters to the UK.
This marks a 7 percent increase from the previous 18 percent offer – but it is still “a long way” from the UK’s demand of 60 percent.
She said: “I hope that by tonight they will find an agreement somewhere, whether it will be 20 or 60 percent. It has to be something that both sides will accept.”
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The leading MEP added: “It is a big thing, I understand that the EU has no problem with the sovereignty of the coastal waters of the UK.
“But it’s still about market access and fair transition.”
Mr Swarbick responded: “The principle point is that the UK should be able to decide for itself, with all the consequences that may follow, rather than being bound by EU rules whether its a raising of standards or not, the so-called level-playing field.”
The Finnish MEP said: “I think the closer we get to the Brexit date, the 31st December, the more often we hear about sovereignty.
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“From the EU’s point of view, this is a world whether we need trans-national cooperation, where we need to pool our sovereignty.
“I find it totally pathetic to continue to talk about sovereignty in the modern world.
“I’m sure the UK and the EU will start to discuss common issues like climate change, as soon as they get past this difficult period.”
The LBC host interrupted: “Sorry, you think national sovereignty is pathetic?”
She responded: “Yes, I do. You have to pool your sovereignty in the modern world.”
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The European Parliament has set midnight tonight as the deadline for agreement, with MEPs threatening to scupper the deal if talks continue past Sunday.
On Saturday, EU fishing chiefs condemned Mr Barnier’s decision to increase his offer to the British, in a surprise Brussels pushback against the chief negotiator.
Representatives of the European fishing sector said the EU was going too far in its efforts to reach a deal.
The European Fisheries Alliance, a group representing fleets from coastal nations such as Belgium, France, and the Netherlands, said: “The shape of a deal, as it currently stands would give a huge blow to the European seafood sector.”
The Alliance’s chairman Gerard van Balsfoort added: “In spite of repeated promises made, we are in the throes of being sold down the river with the offer made to the United Kingdom by the European Commission.”
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