Brexit: Promises made by the UK on fishing will be 'very difficult to deliver on'

Fair competition and fishing rights the two largest stumbling blocks in the way of a deal
Brexit: Promises made by the UK on fishing will be 'very difficult to deliver on'

Talks to try to secure an agreement have been taking place today, but Mr Coveney has acknowledged that time is quickly running out for the sides to agree on any potential deal.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has described the likelihood of getting a Brexit deal done before the end of the year as "doable but difficult".

Speaking on Newstalk this afternoon, Mr Coveney stated that the two largest stumbling blocks in the way of a deal were fair competition and fishing rights.

On the issue of fair competition rights, Mr Coveney said that the EU's position remained the same as it was at the beginning of the year and that the UK had earlier agreed with the EU's stance. 

"Because the proximity to each other is so close, we can’t have a situation that, at some point in the future, the British government decides to de-regulate its economy or to, in a targeted way, provide grant aid to certain industries through state aid.

"That goes way beyond what the EU is allowed to do, and therefore derives competitive advantage for British companies over EU companies, and to have a trading relationship that doesn’t involve any barriers or tarries or quotas.

That has been something that the EU has insisted on for over a year now, and the UK at the start of the year agreed to that approach and has since moved away from it.

Mr Coveney described the issue of fishing as a “highly emotive” one, and described the expectations both sides had around the issue as being “very very far apart.”

He sought to assure fishing communities in Ireland that the Government and the EU “would not be selling out fishing interest in order to get a deal in other areas.” 

He said that the issue of fishing, from a UK perspective, was "more raw politics", adding that promises made by the UK on the issue were going to be "very very difficult to deliver on.”

Talks to try to secure an agreement have been taking place today, but Mr Coveney acknowledged that time is quickly running out for the sides to agree on any potential deal.

He said: “Once we hit the second week of November we’re really moving into a danger zone in terms of running out of time.

“That’s why you’ve seen Michel Barnier using the kind of language that he uses today, that we must use every day and not waste any time to try and find a way of getting an agreement."

Mr Coveney said “the stakes are very high", before urging Irish businesses to prepare for “a worst-case scenario", and to take the possibility of a no-deal-scenario seriously. 

“We do need to find a way of getting a deal. If we don’t, I think it will be a monumental failure of politics quite frankly. But we’re working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen."

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