• Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

It is understood agreement largely reached on fair competition and fishing rights

Dec 24, 2020

British prime minister Boris Johnson and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen are expected to announce a post-Brexit deal after 24 hours of intense negotiations about EU access to British fishing waters.
At 7.30am in Brussels, the main negotiators were still working to nail down the exact wording of the final treaty in the European Commissions headquarters to seal an agreement on their future relationship after the end of the post-Brexit transition next week after talks through the night.
It is understood agreement has been largely reached on the issues of fair competition and fishing rights
Mr Johnson has briefed his cabinet.
Mr Johnson is planning a press conference after he has spoken with Ms von der Leyen but with the talks continuing, the timing is uncertain.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he believes there will be a Christmas Eve Brexit deal despite a last-minute hitch related to the small text of a fisheries agreement.
Speaking on RTÉ radios Morning Ireland, Mr Coveney pointed out that the document included 2,000 pages of legal text. The EU will be insisting on getting this absolutely right.
I had hoped to be talking to you this morning in parallel with big announcements happening in both London and Brussels, but we still expect those later on today.
Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen intervened personally in recent days, holding several phone conversations, in a last-ditch bid to reach an agreement before the UK leaves the single market at the end of the month.
The final stretch of talks were focused on hammering out a compromise on fish, a politically contentious issue in Britain as well as in several EU member states.
According to two people familiar with the matter, Mr Johnson has accepted that the blocs share of the catch in UK waters should fall by 25 per cent over a period of five-and-a-half years.
Britain had initially sought an 80 per cent reduction over just three years, but in recent days had offered a cut of 30 per cent.
The bloc had refused to accept a reduction of more than 25 per cent in the value of fish caught, saying even that was hard for countries like France and Denmark to accept, according to officials with knowledge of the discussions.
When asked on Morning Ireland about the problems facing the Irish fishery industry, Mr Coveney said that a deal was not going to be a disaster for Irish fishing.
However, he did acknowledge that a Brexit deal was not going to conclude without some impact on fishing, it was a question of the extent. Ireland had set out clear targets to protect itself and he hoped they would be achieved in the deal, he said.
If EU ambassadors sign off on the deal on Thursday, the European Council can agree to apply the agreement provisionally from January 1st, pending approval from the European Parliament later next month.
MPs will return to Westminster on December 30th to consider all stages of any necessary implementation legislation in a single day, with the House of Lords expected to put it to a vote the same day.
The European Research Group (ERG) of eurosceptic Conservative backbenchers said on Wednesday night that it would examine the details and legal text of any deal as expeditiously as possible. They will reconvene a star chamber of lawyers led by veteran MP Bill Cash, which gave its verdict on Theresa Mays withdrawal agreement in 2019.
Given that the new agreement is also highly complex, the star chamber will scrutinise it in detail, to ensure that its provisions genuinely protect the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, after we exit the transition period at the end of this year, they said in a statement.
Although a deal would ensure tariff-free, quota-free trade between Britain and the EU, Britains decision to leave the single market and the customs union means there will be friction and extra bureaucracy for importers and exporters.
Sterling extended gains on Thursday and rose over 0.6 per cent against the dollar in early London trade to $1.3586. Sterling also strengthened against the euro, and was last up 0.3 per cent at 89.90 pence. Additional reporting Bloomberg and Reuters