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Brexit: Dominic Raab calls on EU to accept 'point of principle' on fisheries

Suban Abdulla
·3-min read
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives at 10 Downing Street in central London on November 26, 2020. - Britain's government on Wednesday unveiled plans to slash the foreign aid budget to help mend its coronavirus-battered finances, prompting one minister to quit and defying impassioned calls to protect the world's poorest people. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrives at 10 Downing Street in central London on November 26, 2020. Photo: Tolga Akmen / AFP via Getty Images

Britain’s foreign secretary has urged the European Union to accept a "point of principle" on fisheries — a key sticking point in reaching an agreement.

Dominic Raab told Sky News that Britain’s position as “an independent, coastal state” meant it must be able to control its waters but added that there could be a transition period for an agreement over fishing rights.

"We can talk about transitions and things like that and we recognise the impact on other countries round Europe," he said.

He added: "But that principle comes with sovereignty, comes with leaving not just the EU but the transition period. I think the answer is, can the EU accept that point of principle that comes with us leaving the political club?"

The foreign secretary said that the country is in a “reasonable position” and there's a “deal to be done,” adding negotiations might soon be “reaching a conclusion.”

When asked about a final deadline, Raab said talks were into the “last week or so” adding that the bloc had previously moved the goalpost on a deadline.

Raab also said he would not put a percentage on the chances of a deal being struck but there had been more “respect” for the UK’s position recently, he said during an appearance on Sophy Ridge On Sunday.

He appeared to reject suggestions on what is reported to be the EU's current offer on fishing — to return between 15% to 18% of fish stocks currently caught by EU fleets in British waters.

"Does that sound right? 18% of control over fish in our own waters. That can't be right," Raab said.

He did say that there had been “some progress” towards “greater respect" for the Britian's position on so-called "level playing field" commitments — a set of post-Brexit common rules and standards.

READ MORE: Brexit: UK and EU restart face-to-face negotiations in London

Face-to-face Brexit talks resumed on Saturday as EU’s top negotiator Michel Barnier returned to London after undergoing self-isolation.

The two sides are still thrashing out differences including fishing rights in UK waters, governance of the agreement, and unfair competition rules.

But, time is fast running out to reach a deal that can be ratified by UK and EU leaders before the transition period ends on 1 January 2021. Reuters reported that the EU will not make a decision on whether to allow UK financial services to access the EU market before the deadline, citing unnamed sources.

On Friday, UK prime minister Boris Johnson spoke to Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin to underline his commitment to reaching a deal that respects the sovereignty of the UK, a government statement said.

Although Britain officially left the EU in January 2020, the post-Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.

If no agreement is made, trade will default to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules — a move which would impact borders, spook financial markets and disrupt delicate supply chains that stretch across Europe and beyond, particularly at a time when the world is grappling with COVID-19.

Watch: What is a no-deal Brexit and what are the potential consequences?