Watch out Macron! Merkel will sacrifice fisheries to protect German car industry – ex-MEP

And Hans-Olaf Henkel said the impact of failing to strike a deal would be felt across all sectors of the European economy, warning such an outcome would be a “disaster”. With barely a month to go before the end of the transition period, post-Brexit access to British waters remains a key sticking point, with Mr Macron digging his heels in, mindful of protecting the interests of France’s sizeable fishing industry.

However, for Germany, which has a far smaller coastline, the issue is far less important, in a clear illustration of differing priorities among the EU27.

Former German MEP Mr Henkel, who stepped down from the European Parliament last year, told he was “in doubt” as to whether Mrs Merkel would back Mr Macron on the issue of fishing rights if it came to the crunch – even though fishing was very important in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which is the state which she represents in the German Bundestag (Parliament).

He also suggested Mrs Merkel would have discussed the matter, and made her views clear, in private conversations with Mr Macron.

Stressing the importance of striking a deal as the deadline approaches, Mr Henkel was unfazed by reports emerging from Brussels that any agreement could be implemented by the European Commission prior to the European Parliament getting full oversight.

He said: “Any chaos as a result of a late deal would be dwarfed by the catastrophic effects of a no deal.

“Of course the European Parliament should sign any deal off, even if it meant they vote on it on December 31.

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“There are similar examples in practically all other industries.

“Think of sales of Minis to the EU or VWs to the UK, British Cheddar to Germany or French Camembert to Britain.

“Think of Rolls Royce engines to Airbus and Miele washing machines to British households. It just doesn’t make sense to burden British and EU industry, workers and consumers with a no-deal scenario.

“Most important for the Northern Europeans: In case of a no deal those who advocate competitiveness like Germany and The Netherlands (rather than socialistic ideals like France and Italy), self-responsibility of each country for its debts like Austria and Denmark (rather than common responsibility for common debts like Greece and Portugal), decentralisation (preferred by Germany and Poland (rather than a centralised Brussels which is more what France and Spain want), the North would lose an important advocate for their cause when it comes to improve, expand and finalise the common market.

“The common market is the largest in the world, Britain is the largest single customer of the EU.

“What better argument for a deal can there be?

“This report on textiles confirms what I always thought: Brexit is a lose-lose-proposition already, a no deal would be a disaster for both.

“That’s why I firmly believe it is not going to happen.

“However, the EU and British must be on guard now to avoid sleep-walking into a disaster.”

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