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The Brussels diplomat will formally update EU ambassadors on the talks for the first time in more than two weeks’ of intensive wrangling over a trade and security deal. Brussels sources have suggested it could be the moment when he first presents the EU-UK future relationship pact to member states. Details of the meeting emerged after it was reported Lord Frost had told Boris Johnson a deal could be agreed by Tuesday.
An EU official familiar with the discussions confirmed the plan, but warned the talks could still collapse because of disagreement over fishing rights and state aid rules.
The insider said: “Of course, these things can move a million times between now and then.”
If an agreement isn’t in place before Friday then EU27 ambassadors could be called into a special session on Sunday.
A European Commission spokesman said: “We continue to negotiate intensively with our UK partners and we aim obviously to find a deal when the conditions will be there.”
Sources on both sides have warned the talks are still deadlocked over future access to Britain’s coastal waters and common standards, including controls for state subsidies.
Senior eurocrats from the European Council have warned Mr Barnier any Brexit trade deal must be completed ahead of a summit of EU leaders on December 10 at the latest.
A major breakthrough is needed in the next seven to 10 days to give the European Parliament time to ratify the agreement before Britain’s transition from the bloc expires in December.
British officials have vented frustration over the EU’s attempts to over complicate the post-Brexit trade talks in recent days.
Downing Street is concerned the bloc is still not prepared to agree to the same terms it has given to Canada.
Eurocrats are failing to treat the UK as an independent nation – despite time running out to reach a deal, No 10 has warned.
A UK source close to talks said: “We have been totally clear that we want nothing more complicated than a Canada-style relationship based on free and fair trade.
“It has always been our preference to reach a deal and we are working hard to get one, but only if we can reach one that’s compatible with our sovereignty and takes back control of our laws, our trade, and our waters. That has been our consistent position from the start and we will not be changing it.
“If we cannot reach an agreement that fully respects UK sovereignty, we will leave on Australia style terms and will prosper in doing so. The PM said this on October 16 and is confident we can do it because we always knew there would be change on January 1 whatever type of relationship we had.”
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Meanwhile British fishing leaders have urged Mr Johnson to stand firm in the wrangling over post-Brexit fishing rights or risk losing control of our coastal waters forever.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, industry leaders warned any late concessions to Brussels would never be reclaimed.
The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and Scottish Fishermen’s Federation wrote: “Any Fisheries Agreement must be judged on its own merits as to whether it is in the best long-term interests of the sector, because the wrong deal on fishing would constitute failure to deliver on those promises made to the industry, and would perpetuate the deeply unfair arrangements under EU membership.
“Anything given away now will never be regained, so we urge you hold firm and bring back a deal that our proud industry can get behind.”
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The groups insisted any capitulation would pile further misery on the industry, which has suffered from more than 40 years’ inside the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.
They said the Prime Minister should be seeking to reclaim as much as 80 percent of the fish caught in British waters for our fleet – similar levels are enjoyed by Norway and Iceland in their own fishing grounds.
The NFFO and SFFO added: “No other country in the world gives away its fish in the way the UK has for the last 40 years.
“This is the time to right these wrongs. This is the UK’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – the Sea of Opportunity – to climb the ladder of successful seafood nations and for the UK to reap the greatest benefit from our sovereign natural resources – not to continue to give them away for the benefit of others.”
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