In a statement following the second round of negotiations concerning the EU’s future relationship with the United Kingdom, chief negotiator Michel Barnier has stated that no progress has been made on fisheries.
‘On this essential topic, the UK has not put forward a legal text,’ he said.
‘We have made no tangible progress despite the Political Declaration stating that we should make our best endeavours to reach an agreement by July. This is necessary to provide sufficient clarity for EU and UK fishermen, and also for all businesses linked to fisheries.’
He added that the EU will not agree to any future economic partnership that does not include a balanced, sustainable and long-term solution on fisheries. ‘That should be crystal clear to the UK,’ Michel Barnier said, commenting that in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent turmoil, the deadlines remain in place.
‘In recent days, the UK government has made clear that it would refuse any extension of the transition period,’ he said.
‘We take note of this choice. My recommendation is therefore that we work hard until June and think carefully about our joint response to this question of extension, taking into account the economic situation and the consequences of our decisions. Right now though, the consequence of the United Kingdom’s decision is that the clock is ticking.’
A high level conference is due to be held in June to take stock of progress in negotiations, and M Barnier warned that between now and then are only two rounds of negotiations remaining; in the weeks of 11th May and of 1st June.
‘We must use these two rounds to make real, tangible progress across all areas,’ he said.
‘With just eight months to go before the end of the transition period, it is urgent to take the necessary measures for the correct implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.’