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The issue of fisheries has remained one of the areas of divergence between the two sides and Ireland’s Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney, has admitted concessions must be made. Amid the fear the two sides could fail to agree on a deal in time for next week’s deadline, Mr Coveney insisted there must be a proposal put forward which both sides “can live with”. Speaking this morning, he said: “We really have to try and find a way of coming up with a compromise on fish that both sides can live with.
“And we need to try and dial down the language on this because it is very easy to become emotive.”
After talks failed to produce any serious movement last week, it is thought November 19 is the next deadline for a deal to be agreed by.
However, during his interview with Sky News, Mr Coveney admitted time is now running out for the EU Parliament to complete the ratification process if a deal is agreed.
The Irish official also indicated the EU will not agree any trade deal if the UK persists with retaining clauses of the Internal Market Bill which violate elements of the Withdrawal Agreement.
The House of Lords voted in favour of two amendments to remove clauses of the legislation which would break international law – the clauses relate to state aid in Northern Ireland and customs-exit declarations.
Downing Street has said it will re-table the clauses later this month when it returns to Parliament.
If Boris Johnson were to do this, Mr Coveney declared a deal will not be ratified by the EU.
Mr Coveney said: “We are running out of time now.
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“Even if we do get a new trade deal negotiated by both sides, if the British government is determined to continue with their Internal Market Bill – to reintroduce parts of that Bill that were removed by the House of Lords this week – then, I think this is a deal that won’t be ratified by the EU.
“Because there is no way the EU will agree to ratify a new agreement if the British government is breaking the existing agreement that is not even 12 months old, and breaking international law by doing that.”
On the issue of fisheries, the EU has declared it must have similar access to UK waters to what it has enjoyed under the Common Fisheries Policy.
With the UK now out of the EU, Government officials have insisted Brussels has not realised Britain’s new-found sovereignty.
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The need for the EU to respect the UK’s new sovereignty was referenced by Lord David Frost ahead of the latest round of talks this week.
He said: “We are working to get a deal, but the only one that’s possible is one that is 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 I will not be changing it.
“There has been some progress in a positive direction in recent days.
“We also now largely have common draft treaty texts, though significant elements are of course not yet agreed.
“We will work to build on these and get an overall agreement if we can.”
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