Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire rejected the idea of trading fishing for financial services in Brexit talks with the U.K.
“We must indeed find a deal on fishery access but there will be no grand bargain, Le Maire said at the POLITICO and L’AGEFI Finance Summit in Paris. “I am totally against this idea, which would mean that we’d give in to finance,” he added.
The U.K. leaving the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has caused anxiety in several coastal communities across Europe, as Britain could block access to its exclusive economic zone — the area around its shores where it will regain control of fishing rights.
Le Maire’s comments signalled that he’s pushing for Europe to force the U.K. to grant access to its waters for EU-flagged boats.
Saying EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier had the “right approach,” Le Maire hammered home his wish to maintain a firm tone during negotiations, including in discussions over recognition of financial rules.
The Commission has maintained that U.K. financial services will be able to do business in the EU27 only in select sectors where it recognises British rules as “equivalent” to Europe’s. That’s not up for negotiation, Barnier has said — and Le Maire backed that this week.
“The equivalence regime will continue to be decided unilaterally by Europe,” Le Maire said. “These are our rules and we decide them.”
“They chose to leave the EU so if they want to access our market, they will do it under our conditions, our rules and our supervision,” he said. “Otherwise you take the risk to let the virus of disintegration lead to a European market fragmentation, and we refuse it, categorically.”