In Brief

The UK fishing offer raising hopes of a Christmas Brexit deal

Compromise on EU catch reduction may have unlocked last-minute talks

A UK counter-offer on fishing rights has raised hopes that the negotiating deadlock may be broken, paving the way for a possible Brexit deal before Christmas.

The proposal was tabled by UK chief negotiator David Frost following a “difficult period of negotiations” and is understood to have “unlock[ed] the troubled talks” after both sides were “seemingly entrenched”, The Guardian reports.

EU sources told the paper that “the British demand for a 60% reduction in the catch by value in British waters had been reduced to 35%, far closer to the 25% reduction that Frost’s EU counterpart” Michel Barnier.

Boris Johnson has also given the green light for a “five-year phase-in period for the new arrangements” and “a compromise also likely on the application of tariffs or export bans on goods where fishing access changes after the phase-in period”, the paper adds.

The new proposal is understood to “offer more protection for existing fish quotas and offer a compensation mechanism for reductions after a phased transition”, The Times reports, potentially satisfying both sides of the negotiating table.

The breakthrough follows the publication of a plan set out by Raoul Ruparel, a former special adviser under Theresa May’s premiership, on how future disputes could be settled through arbitration.

Writing on Politico, Ruparel said that “in a scenario where the EU quota share is reduced from the levels agreed at the end of the transition, an independent arbitration panel would determine the economic cost of that loss to the EU and allow the EU to levy tariffs in other areas beyond fishing to compensate”.

“Furthermore, the overall free-trade agreement will include a termination clause,” Ruparel added. “If in future, the UK attempted to cut the EU’s quota share in UK waters too far, the EU would always retain the right to notify termination of the agreement.”

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