EU fishing fury: Brussels vows to be ‘firm’ with UK – new showdown looms

Brexit: Boris Johnson's fishing deal slammed by Mummery

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Ahead of a crunch meeting of the UK-EU Joint Committee/Partnership Council, the European Commission has issued warnings over a number of disputes it expects to be resolved. Eurocrats said disagreements over the Northern Ireland Protocol, post-Brexit fishing rights and citizens’ rights need to be settled. Maros Sefcovic, the Commission’s vice-president responsible for Brexit, suggested Brussels could even trigger a trade war if Boris Johnson ignores the bloc’s demands.

On fisheries, a senior EU official said it would demand access for French vessels to the waters around Jersey.

Authorities from the Channel island prevented access to a number of smaller trawlers because owners couldn’t prove historic fishing activity in the waters off the isle.

The Commission said it was unfair the boats were blocked from operating in the area because many of them are not equipped with GPS technology or tracking equipment to prove their fishing patterns.

The official told reporters: “The EU will be firm on some of the issues that have arisen in recent months.

“For instance, in the area of fisheries and the treatment of certain EU citizens, regarding long-term visas.”

The insider added: “On fisheries, there are some big issues, notably on licences in particular around Jersey.

“First of all, when the licences issued, they often come with conditions and the conditions only become clear at the very last minute. And, the conditions are as such that is seriously limits the ability of the vessels in question to fish and that in turn endangers the livelihood of a fisherman and his family.”

The official claimed that a number of licences have not been issued because vessels are unable to prove historical fishing activity in the waters off Jersey’s coast.

They added: “We’re working very closely with the authorities in Jersey in the UK and in France to try and prove the historic fishing with the vessels.”

But the major row ahead of tomorrow’s talks between Brexit minister Lord Frost and Mr Sefcovic is expected to be over the post-Brexit border arrangements for Northern Ireland.

British sources have suggested the country could unilaterally extend grace periods from EU red tape on chilled meats, such as sausages and mince.

Downing Street has already once extended a similar grace periods on supermarket goods and parcels.

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Any such move would infuriate the EU, which has already slapped the UK with legal action over its previous extension.

Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Sefcovic said: “If the UK takes further unilateral action over the coming weeks, the EU will not be shy in reacting swiftly, firmly and resolutely to ensure that the UK abides by its international law obligations.”

EU officials have stressed they are “not afraid” to trigger additional punitive measures available to them in the Brexit treaties.

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This could include trade tariffs on British exports to the bloc or the suspension of parts of the future relationship agreement.

One eurocrat warned: “The EU’s patience is wearing thin, and if this continues, we will have to consider all the tools and all the options that are available to us.

“If there’s to be a discussion on new extended or expanded flexibilities, then we believe the UK first needs to implement the Protocol.”

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