The first round of negotiations on a future (fish trade) relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom was “constructive”.
But there are various topics, including access to British fishing waters, about which Brussels and London are “seriously” far apart.
That is what EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said after the first round of talks that started Monday in Brussels and ended on Thursday. Every year the British want to renegotiate how much fish the EU member states can catch. That is impractical, says Barnier.
The EU wants to include fishing in the future trade agreement. Rules about fair competition for British and European companies and the role of the European Court of Justice are also issues.
The parties continue to negotiate from 18 to March 20 in London. “We will continue in the spirit of trust and do everything we can to reach an agreement before the end of the year,” said Barnier.
He called that a challenge, and again pointed to the short time ahead. The transition period in which London is still following EU rules ends on December 31.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not want to know anything about the possibility of extending that period by one or two years and quietly continuing to work on an agreement.