The French European affairs minister has threatened to block a Brexit trade deal if the agreement reached by the negotiators does not reflect French interests, adding that Europe must prepare for the risk of a no-deal outcome.
Clement Beaune, France’s European Affairs Minister, told Europe 1 radio on Friday that Paris is not willing to accept a UK-EU trade deal on bad terms.
I still hope that we can have an agreement, but we will not accept a bad agreement for France. If there was an agreement and it was not good, we would oppose it with a right of veto.
Beaune reiterated his hope that a deal can be reached between the UK and the European bloc but told the public to prepare for the very real risk that free movement and free access to the British market will end on December 31.
The minister specifically addressed fishermen and producers who may be worst hit by a no-deal Brexit. President Emmanuel Macron’s government has been very vocal about supporting French fishermen who would lose access to UK fisheries in the event of a no deal scenario.
“I still hope that we can have an agreement. But I also want to say to our fishermen, to our producers, to the citizens who are listening to us, that we will not accept an agreement on bad terms,” Beaune added.
The UK remains adamant that European fishermen should not have access to bountiful British waters after Brexit.
Beaune concluded by criticising the UK negotiators, claiming that it is necessary to be frank to achieve a good deal. “We have always been transparent. Sometimes the British a little less,” he noted.
Talks between Brussels and London have entered the eleventh hour, with EU chief negotiator, Michael Barnier, currently in London to hammer out a deal.
Negotiations have been stuck for some time over dispute resolution, state aid and access to UK fisheries.
On Thursday, the Irish foreign minister, Simon Coveney, said there was a “good chance” a deal could be sealed in the “next few days.”
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