Brexit: German MEP calls for 'sustainable' partnership with UK
Speaking in the European Parliament, Gunnar Beck insisted Germany, France and Ireland would all benefit from the EU signing a trade pact with Britain. He pointed out Brussels should ensure any agreement is mutually beneficial rather than attempting to punish Britain for quitting the bloc. Mr Beck said: “Germany has a huge trade surplus with Britain, France gains to and UK trade is vital to Ireland, whilst EU trade matters even more to the British economy.
“In these circumstances, a trade deal is almost an imperative of reason.
“May I therefore remind the EU that trade deals are about trade and mutual advantage and not about climate change or world rescue missions, nor is it wise to make every issue a point of principle.”
In an unusual move, the German praised the work of Michel Barnier as the bloc’s chief negotiator.
And Mr Beck even mocked fellow MEPs for their attempts to force through a no-deal Brexit if they are unable to rubber-stamp any agreement before it enters into force.
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He said: “As for the charge, he’s [Mr Barnier] bypassing the Parliament, that’s is the very last thing that crossed my mind as a member of the UK Coordination Group.”
Mr Barnier today warned the Brexit talks have reached a “moment in truth” ahead of Sunday’s deadline for a deal.
He told MEPs the dispute over fisheries was the “main hurdle” in the “very narrow” path to an agreement after more than nine months of talks.
Mr Barnier said: “The path to an agreement is very narrow at a time when decisions need to be taken. That will also be a time for everyone to live up to their responsibilities.”
The EU’s Brexit chief signalled he was refusing to drop a demand that would allow Brussels to slap Britain with punitive tariffs if European trawlermen are largely locked out of our fishing grounds in the future.
He insisted that any trade agreement must include a distinct between Britain’s access to the single market and fishing opportunities in UK waters for EU vessels.
“If following a critical period of adjustment that is deemed unnecessary, if the UK wants to cut access to these waters for European fishermen, at any given time, then the EU also has to maintain its sovereign right react or to compensate by adjusting the conditions for products, and especially fisheries products, to the single market,” Mr Barnier said.
With just hours left to clinch an agreement, the Frenchman blamed Britain for the increasing time press by trying to run down the clock to secure concessions from the EU.
He said: ‘In June, they refused any form of extension to the transition, which was possible.
“If they should leave with an agreement or without, it is nevertheless the British who decided on that deadline.”
MEPs yesterday declared that a trade deal must be thrashed out by Sunday to have any chance of being ratified by the end of the year.
Brexit: Irish MEP slams EU trawlers for 'destroying' seabeds
Leaders of the European Parliament’s main political groups adopted a declaration yesterday stating MEPs will not vote on the Brexit deal before the end of the year if they cannot get a treaty text by midnight on Sunday.
In a private Brussels meeting yesterday, EU chief negotiator Mr Barnier told top MEPs he was closing in on an agreement but needed longer to get it over the line, according to a source.
One EU insider said: “An agreement in the coming days is possible but difficult, especially on fishing.” Another said: “No real progress has been made on fisheries.”
A diplomatic note from the meeting, seen by Express.co.uk, said: “If a deal is reached later on in December, it would be too late for the Parliament to scrutinise it. This would imply a temporary no deal period from January 1.”
A Brussels diplomat warned the EU yesterday that MEPs would not back a deal without having a say.
The diplomat said: “If you bypass them, this is not the way they see themselves as this very important European Parliament.”
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