Hitting out at alleged attempts to drive a divide between EU states, Germany’s Europe Minister, Michael Roth, claimed Brussels remains united. Ahead of Boris Johnson’s showdown talks in Brussels on Wednesday, Mr Roth denied France had ever threatened to veto a Brexit deal if fishing rights were not protected. Speaking after a meeting of European Ministers, Mr Roth claimed Germany’s relationship with France still remained strong.
He said: “Efforts to divide the EU on Brexit have failed and will continue to fail.
“France has not announced a veto, it has simply said all member states will have to agree to a deal.
“That is nothing new.”
However, only hours earlier, France’s own Europe Minister, Clement Beaune warned if the two sides agree a bad Brexit deal, it would be vetoed.
He told French radio: “We will not sacrifice our fisheries and our fishermen.
“And the British know that.
“If we see that the deal is worse than not having an agreement, we will not hesitate, like all other countries can, to reject it.
“We still have time for negotiations. A few days, at least.
With the UK now an independent state, British officials have rejected any proposal which would give EU fishing fleets continued access similar to what is currently enjoyed.
Amid the current state of progress over fisheries, it is thought UK officials are contemplating plans to remove pelagic fish from any trade deal.
Pelagic fish refers to those which swim near to the surface and accounts for 80 percent of all the fish EU fleets catch in the UK’s waters.
There have also been indications the UK would be happy with a quota return of close 50 percent from EU fleets.
Last week, Mr Barnier had offered an 18 percent return with a 10-year adjustment period.
EU leaders will meet on Thursday at a summit but is thought Wednesday is the final deadline for a deal to be agreed between the two sides.
It is hoped the arrival of Boris Johnson in Brussels tomorrow could provide political impetus to talks.