Brexit deal ‘could happen this week but time is running out’


rish foreign minister Simon Coveney today raised hopes of a Brexit trade deal being struck within days, stating that both Britain and the EU believed this was the key week for a breakthrough.

However, Mr Coveney said that both sides would have to compromise to reach an agreement. A stand-off over fishing rights, he added, could still lead to a collapse in the negotiations.

“I do think a deal is possible, but it needs to be finalised this week if possible, because we really are running out of time in terms of ratification and preparation,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.

“But I think a deal is possible because the consequences of no deal are so costly and so disruptive, particularly for the UK and for Northern Ireland, but for the Republic of Ireland as well. So I think there’s a big incentive to get a deal done.”

Environment Secretary George Eustice also emphasised the need to break the deadlock. He told Sky News: “We really are now running out of time — I know we have been saying that for some weeks — this is the crucial week we need to get a breakthrough. I really do think we are now in the sort of, final week, or 10 days.”

Experts doubt that the trade talks will  fail over the fish industry, given that it accounts for only around 0.1 per cent of the UK’s GDP, a fraction of that of financial services which is understood to not be part of the proposed deal.

( EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier following his meeting with Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay. / REUTERS )

Britain wants “zonal attachment” to agree a total catch for the UK’s waters — a step that would give it a much larger quota share than if the fish maths were worked out on the EU’s proposals.

“All we’re asking for … is there to be annual negotiations based on the science and also for there to be a move towards a fairer, more scientific sharing methodology which is called zonal attachment which is broadly where the fish are to be found,” Mr Eustice told BBC radio. 

“Under that analysis we currently only have access to about half of the fish in our own waters, that is profoundly unfair on our fishermen.”


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