The European Union and the UK have been locking horns for years over the rights of EU vessels to continue fishing in British waters after Brexit. Despite the small contribution of the fishing sector to the GDP, the issue has remained a huge controversial point in the negotiations. Euronews Europe Editor Darren McCaffrey challenged European Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius over Brussels’ refusal to give into fisheries: “Fishing is way less than one percent, in fact, a percentage point of most countries’ GDP.
“It employs 180,000 people across the European Union.
“Car manufacturing, on the other hand, employs over six million people directly, and over 13 million people indirectly, 8.5 percent of Europe’s workforce.
“Wouldn’t it be regrettable, even if you’re representing fishermen, if a trade deal with the UK fell apart on the issue of fishing which, overall, isn’t that important to many or most Europeans and, indeed, to our economy?”
He added: “What about people’s jobs?”
Mr Sinkevicius suggested the issue of fisheries is highly symbolic for both the European Union and the United Kingdom as he insisted Brussels will continue to push for a suitable agreement that could pacify both sides.
He said: “I think you can’t measure sometimes the importance in GDP percentage numbers.
“You must look at the social impact and our goal is very clear.
“We want to reach a stable, sustainable and long-term agreement on fisheries which enables the UK to further develop its fishing opportunities while ensuring the sustainable use of resources and protecting the activities of EU fishermen and women.”
In a break with the Franco-German alliance, even Chancellor Angela Merkel warned there needs to be a compromise in order to reach a breakthrough.
“Intensive talks will happen every day and begin tomorrow afternoon, 22 October, in London.”
Downing Street also said in a statement: “On the basis of that conversation we are ready to welcome the EU team to London.
“It is clear that significant gaps remain between our positions in the most difficult areas, but we are ready, with the EU, to see if it is possible to bridge them in intensive talks.”