Friday 11 December 2020 4:23 pm

Macron promises not to 'have cake and eat it' in Brexit negotiations

French President Emmanuel Macron has insisted that the EU is not “asking to have its cake and eat it” in Brexit negotiations on fishing rights.

Responding to a question on the European Commission contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit this morning, Macron said “I don’t want to have my cake and eat it too. No, but I do want a fair agreement”.

The measures include a proposal to “create the appropriate legal framework” granting EU and UK fishermen reciprocal access to each other’s waters until 31 December, or until a deal is struck.

Macron said his demands for the protection of French fishing rights in UK waters were “coherent” and that he was not asking for too much.

He also argued that the talks are not in a “no-deal situation” as the Withdrawal Agreement has already been agreed, adding that member states are “united” behind EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

Last week British officials accused Macron of making fresh demands at the eleventh hour, as the French premier strengthened his stance on France being able to preserve a substantial portion of existing fishing rights in British waters.

EU access to British fishing waters remains a key stumbling block in Brexit negotiations.

Barnier and British envoy David Frost have been locked in talks for weeks around how much access EU member states will have to UK’s fishing waters next year.

Britain last week lowered its original demand for a return of 80 per cent of the EU’s fishing quotas in its waters to 60 per cent, while the EU initially offered to repatriate 18 per cent.

Read more: No-deal Brexit likeliest outcome, Ursula von der Leyen tells EU leaders

No Deal now very likely

Macron’s comments today come after European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen last night said that a no-deal Brexit is the most likely outcome for Sunday’s final agreement deadline.

Boris Johnson today said the prospect of Britain leaving the EU without a trade deal by the Brexit transition period deadline is now “very, very likely”.

The Prime Minister stated that UK was more likely to have an “Australia-style” relationship with EU, after repeatedly declaring he will not accept the current terms of a trade deal offered by the bloc.

Read more: O Come, Emmanuel: Hopes of Brexit trade deal run thin as Macron toughens stance