France could use its veto to block a post-Brexit deal with the United Kingdom if it does not meet Paris’ demands, especially on fishing, Europe Minister Clement Beaune said Friday.
“If there’s a deal that isn’t a good one, we’d oppose it,” Beaune told Europe 1 radio, adding that “every country (in the EU) has the right to veto” whatever emerges from the last-ditch Brexit talks going on in London.
He said France would evaluate any accord itself, adding: “We owe it to the French and we owe it to the fishermen and the other economic sectors.”
Beaune warned that the risk of a no deal situation “exists” and that “we need to be prepared”.
“But I want to believe that we can have a deal and a good deal,” he said.
Negotiators on both sides are working day and night to agree on a deal in time to be ratified before December 31, when Britain will no longer be bound by EU single market rules under the terms of a post-Brexit transition.
But with the deadline looming, some of the EU’s 27 member states -- led by France and the Netherlands -- fear the EU Commission is ready to give too many concessions, especially on fishing, to win a deal.
On a visit to northern France on Thursday, Prime Minister Jean Castex had said French fishing would not be “sacrificed” for the sake of a deal.
“We obviously hope to obtain an agreement under the best possible conditions, but not under any conditions,” Castex said.
Fishing in British waters represents around 20 percent of French fishing activity in the Atlantic, Channel and North Sea regions, in operations worth some 180 million euros ($220 million) a year.
“If we resort to (only fishing in) French waters, there is a risk of overfishing and in a few months we will destroy the resources,” Castex warned after visiting a deep-sea fishing vessel which operates in the north of Scotland.