France desperate for a Brexit deal to shore-up its economy – but insists Boris must cave
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President Emmanuel Macron’s top Europe adviser said the EU cannot be “weak” in the upcoming tussle over access to Britain’s fishing grounds and regulatory alignment. In a sign attitudes are hardening across the bloc, France’s European affairs minister Clement Beaune insisted Paris would not rubber-stamp a trade agreement unless the UK respects its hardline demands. Mr Beaune said: “Regarding Brexit, we could accept out of convenience an agreement that is too fast and too weak.
“It is in our interest and the economic interest of many sectors in France, but we can’t be weak.
“We can’t accept access to our market if they don’t respect our rules in terms of competition, environmental and health.
“We can’t talk about sovereignty and independence if we don’t pass the test of sovereignty and independence that Brexit represents.”
European capitals fear the chances of a no deal Brexit have dramatically increased because very little progress has been made since June.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, is set to travel to London next week for emergency talks with his British counterpart in a final bid to get the process back on track.
The Frenchman will ask the Prime Minister’s dealmaker David Frost to publish post-Brexit plans for the UK’s industrial and state subsidies policy.
The Tory peer has told his EU counterpart Britain to draw up its regime on a” timetable dictated to” by Brussels.
EU powerbroker Angela Merkel said the next fortnight will be pivotal in whether an agreement can be reached.
At her annual summer news conference in Berlin, the German Chancellor said: “The crucial weeks are now approaching in which we have to clarify the future relationship between Great Britain and the EU.”
Eurocrats have already issued warnings to Downing Street that negotiators have just two weeks to save talks on the trade and security pact.
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EU officials said significant progress must be made during the next negotiating round, starting September 7, if both sides are to reach an agreement.
Meanwhile Mr Beaune accused the Government of “school playground” tactics by enforcing a 14-day quarantine on all travellers arriving from France.
The Frenchman said Brexit was a factor in Downing Street’s decision to effectively close the border.
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He said: “The UK is in the process of leaving the European Union, it’s an element of context.
“But the United Kingdom has honestly a more political approach in the way it is handling this crisis.”
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