It’s not ALL about fishing! Finland breaks EU ranks ahead of crunch Brexit talks
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Tytti Tuppurainen, Finland’s European minister, said this morning aviation was a hugely important matter for her country – a pointed reminder to Michel Barnier and his team that not everything hinged on fishing. While fishing has become one of the biggest sticking points in Brexit talks, with France in particular refusing to back down over access to UK waters, Ms Tuppurainen’s comments this morning shows the EU is not united on the matter.
Ms Tuppurainen admitted the EU was still keen on a deal with the UK “but not at any cost”.
Speaking ahead of a summit of EU leaders on Thursday, she added the specific sensitivities of the Bloc’s 27 member states needed more attention in EU-UK technical talks.
Ms Tuppurainen added: “There are also many national issues which need to be handled for instance, for us Finland it is important to pay more attention to the aviation issue that requires more attention at the technical level of the negotiations.”
Markku Keinänen, Finnish Ambassador to the UK, adding he was “still very optimistic that we can find a solution”.
But he made clear this “can’t be guaranteed” adding: “Both sides have red lines that they don’t want to change.
“The coming weeks will be crucial – we have to be able to reach reasonable progress so we can enter the final phase of negotiations.”
Tom Dodds, British Ambassador to Finland agreed with his counterpart, stressing “Both sides would like to have an agreement.”
He added: “But Boris Johnson has been very clear that unless we have a clear indication that there is going to be an agreement by the middle of this month the UK side and the EU side will have to double down on preparations for trading in a different way.”
The UK and European Union are engaged in three days of intensive negotiations as the clock ticks down to Boris Johnson’s deadline for progress in trade talks.
Boris Johnson wants a deal by October 15th but it is becoming increasingly likely the deadline could slip by without an agreement.
In recent days Mr Johnson has spoken to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron with other European nations hoping for a deal.
However, gaps still remain between the UK and EU sides over fishing rights and the so-called “level playing field” on state subsidies, workers’ rights and environmental standards.
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Downing Street stressed Mr Johnson remained committed to the October 15th date and pointed out the EU’s Michel Barnier had said the “moment of truth” in the negotiations would come in the middle of this month.
The PM’s spokesperson added: “David Frost and the UK negotiating team are in Brussels today for further talks as part of the intensified process that was agreed by the PM and Ursula von der Leyen.
“These talks will continue until Wednesday.
“Then the European Council takes place at the end of this week.
“We will work as hard as we can to see if we can get an agreement by October 15th.
“The EU themselves indicated to the UK negotiating team in July that mid-October was the last possible date for a deal.”
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