At the same time, EU chief negotiator Barnier’s fishermen have always been promised that the fishery will not be sacrificed to make an agreement possible. To prevent the British from putting last-minute pressure on the EU, Barnier wanted to conclude a fisheries agreement in July. However, this did not work at the time, so fishing became the last part of the negotiations.
According to Gerard van Balsfoort, President of the European Fisheries Organization (EUFA), this shows that the EU has not played the negotiating game wisely. “I can’t deny that the fishing industry is small, but if you argue that way you could have gotten rid of any small sector. What I don’t understand is that everyone says that a trade deal is much more important to the British than to the EU. Then why can’t you get any concessions to the fishing industry? You’ll have the high price, a trade deal, and we’ll get more fisheries sales. I just don’t get it. “
Next big blow
Even more than the loss of 25 percent of the catch, the temporary nature of the deal worries fishermen. “Those five years are over in no time and after that there is still a lack of clarity. Then there must be renegotiations. Now there is a big blow, but we have to prepare for the next big blow.”
The European Parliament wants a Brexit deal to be reached by tomorrow so that parliamentarians can look at it carefully before approving it. That seems unlikely now. The British are likely to come up with a counter-proposal on fisheries, and the parties also disagree on a level playing field.