The EU’s Ursula von der Leyen has in a move to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK tapped the expertise of a more senior official Stephanie Riso to join Mr Michel Barnir in making sure a deal is secured before the end of the transition period by the end of this year.
The importance of a trade deal with the UK can never be undermined by the Europeans as they continue to move towards securing a deal but has refused to accept Britain’s conditions on the fishery issue even as the transition period date closes. Michel Barnier landed in London on Friday to continue talks, however, the European Commission has sent a senior official, Ms Riso, to possibly help seal a deal fast.
Ms Riso is not a total stranger to the trade negotiations as she was a member of Mr Barnier’s team during negotiations with Theresa May’s administration and is deemed a capable hand to finding a better solution around the stalled issues.
One senior government source said Von der Leyen is being quite helpful and is keen to unblock things, “Von der Leyen has been quite helpful. She is keen to unblock things. Her team has been more involved of late which is helpful.
“On the level playing field and state aid we aren’t there yet but we can see how we get there. The problem is fish.”
Both sides have been dragging fishery quotas and rights for a long time now with Mr Barnier last week offering 15-18 per cent of its quota catch to Britain, but the offer was immediately trashed and a UK government official slammed it.
The govt. official said, “These figures are risible, and the EU side know full well that we would never accept this. There seems to be a failure from the Commission to internalise the scale of change needed as we become an independent nation.”
John Balls, chairman of North Devon Fishermen’s Association slammed Mr Barnier offer saying it was an “insult” to the UK fishing industry.
“15 and 18 per cent? That’s rubbish! That’s an insult to the UK fishing industry. What I find bizarre is he is offering us a fish quota which is in our waters.
“If the French are moved out, if the Belgians are moved out, if the Spanish are moved out and everybody else who’s in the EU, if anybody else thinks they’re just going to come into the waters which are now owned and governed by the United Kingdom that is not going to happen.
“They will have to come to the UK government and apply for a licence to fish within our waters. Then we’ll worry about sorting what volume of fish they can take.”