Christophe Hansen, an EU Parliament Brexit sherpa, said the bloc would have to meet the Prime Minister’s demands to clinch an agreement. His warning comes as senior figures in Brussels brace for a last-minute trade-off between access to Britain’s waters and the bloc’s demand for a level playing field. Mr Hansen told an event: “There will be compromises to be made on fisheries. The status quo, that is somewhere we’re not going to land.”
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has discussed the need to compromise in the trade talks if there is to be an agreement before the end of the year.
But hardline coastal states, led by France, have rejected any potential climb-downs tabled by the Brussels diplomat.
French President Emmanuel Macron wants near-parity access to Britain’s coastal waters as the price of any Brexit trade deal.
They have warned that a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for their industry.
Olivier Lepretre, chairman of the northern French fishermen’s association, urged the two sides to broker a sensible compromise.
He said: “Boulogne absolutely needs an agreement. We are the largest fishing port in France with a turnover of 450,000 tonnes, including 300,000 tonnes of our own catch. French fishermen need further access to British waters, then the traders and processors come ashore.
“If there was a hard Brexit without an agreement on fish rights, it would be catastrophic.”
The industry chief has claimed 60 to 80 percent of the small boats he represents exclusively fish in British waters.
Mr Lepretre claimed fishermen have already been forced to scale back their operations because of a lack of investment since Brexit.
Losing access to UK fishing grounds would be the final nail in the coffin for many of them, he added.
Meanwhile, Brexit talks resumed online yesterday after they were brought to a halt last week when an EU official tested positive for coronavirus.
Mr Barnier is expected to travel to London for face-to-face talks later this week.
Mr Johnson is expected to personally intervene in the trade talks amid rising hope a deal can be secured in the coming days.
Downing Street said there are still issues that need to be resolved as talks resumed yesterday.
But the Prime Minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are to talk to push an agreement over the line.