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Brexit

French fishermen better off with no deal than bad British proposals - minister

FILE PHOTO: French Overseas Minister Annick Girardin speaks during a session of questions to the government at the French National Assembly in Paris, France May 26, 2020, as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Christophe Archambault/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - French fishermen would be better off with no-deal rather than accepting “unacceptable” proposals by Britain in Brexit fishing talks, France’s Minister of the Sea said in an interview published on Sunday.

“So far, the UK has made unacceptable proposals. Fishermen would rather have no agreement than a bad agreement, and they are not wrong,” Annick Girardin told the JDD newspaper.

“We have laid out red lines: access to fishing grounds, quotas and the species that we fish today. Europeans must preserve their resources and their access.”

The EU and Britain are in crunch negotiations to get a deal on post-Brexit trade in place before an end-year deadline. Fishing is one of three main stumbling blocks.

The EU wants to secure consistent rights to fish in British waters, an important issue for France where coastal fishing communities are politically influential. Britain wants a deal more like that of non-EU member Norway, under which quotas are set each year.

“We’re preparing for all eventualities, and therefore also for a no-deal. France is preparing to support its fisheries and the entire industry. European tools will have to be put in place for this,” Girardin said, adding she still hoped a compromise could be reached.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Chris Reese

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