‘Protect our fishing’ Ireland issues HUGE warning as Brexit talks reach crunch stage

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The Irish Taoiseach said the Brexit negotiations will be at the centre of the meeting of EU leaders today and on Friday, warning fisheries and an agreement on the level playing field between the EU and the UK were still the key points of contention between all parties. Mr Martin said: “Obviously the issues of considerable concerns remain a level playing field, that’s important for Europe, governance of any subsequent deal that will be arrived at between the United Kingdom and Europe and clearly fisheries.

“It’s very important for us in Ireland that our coastal communities are protected in an overall deal on Brexit through a sensible and fair fisheries deal.”

Ahead of his arrival the Irish Prime Minister said he expected an intensification of talks to break the current impasse on reaching a Brexit deal with Britain before the end of this year.

“I think we still can get this resolved within the timeframe available to us,” he told reporters in Brussels. “I think where there is a will there’s a way.”

“With COVID-19 having such a devastating impact on society and on the economies of the United Kingdom and across Europe obviously leaders will not want to hit citizens with a shock in terms of what a no-deal would represent.”

European Union leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to pressure Britain for concessions in their troubled Brexit talks, saying a trillion euros worth of trade could be sunk if London does not budge on fisheries, fair competition and solving disputes.

Months of painstaking talks have narrowed the gaps on issues from energy ties to coordinating social benefits from 2021 when Britain’s standstill transition period after leaving the bloc ends.

But the three most contentious areas have barred a deal on a new partnership between the EU and Britain, with businesses and markets increasingly jittery about uncertain trading rules as the year-end deadline to put a deal in place nears.

“We have been making good progress but `good’ is not good enough,” an EU official said when asked if a deal was close ahead of the summit.

“We have not found a solution on the three issues that are very difficult… so we cannot say we are close to an agreement.”

The 27 EU national leaders are set to step up contingency plans for an abrupt economic split if no agreement emerges in time on trading with Britain without tariffs or quotas.

But, keen to avoid being assigned blame for an eventual chaotic split, the bloc also granted extra time for more talks.

A German government source said the bloc would “continue the negotiations for as long as possible” and added: “The European Union will not be the ones getting up from the table.”

The EU says a deal must come in early November at the latest to allow enough time for ratification by the European Parliament and some national chambers before the year ends.

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In a call with top Brussels officials on the eve of the summit, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed disappointment at the scant progress so far and said he would decide whether to continue talks with the EU after the summit.

Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator has told Prime Minister Boris Johnson not to walk away from trade talks with the European Union because deals to cover security and fishing were possible over the next two weeks, The Times reported.

Mr Johnson’s final decision on staying at the table or walking away towards a no-deal exit will not be made before Friday, The Times said, and will depend on signals from Europe’s most powerful leaders.

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