Joao Vale de Almeida said the European Union would have to back down from its hardline position on fisheries. The diplomat admitted the bloc would have to reconsider its plans because of Britain’s rights as an independent coastal nation. He said: “There will not a deal without a deal on fisheries. Any other scenario doesn’t really matter, that’s a fact of life.
“There are issues on the British side which are crucial for them. There will not be a deal without addressing those, so one needs to be pragmatic.
“We look forward to having a deal which will be, as always, a compromise.”
Mr Almeida added Boris Johnson would have to offer fair access for EU boats to ensure British fish products are granted tariff-free passage into the bloc’s market.
The Portuguese diplomat, who was previously the EU’s ambassador to the US and United Nations, warned trade talks risk collapsing because of the lack of face-to-face meetings.
He told the EU affairs website Encompass that Mr Barnier and David Frost, the Prime Minister’s lead negotiator, would have to meet soon to patch up their patchy relationship.
The two sides have been forced to hold negotiations via video-link because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Almeida said: “I don’t think to be very frank we can make the deal if we continue to work on this basis for too many months – let’s be realistic about it.
“Now we are reaching the limit. We need to move up a gear and that is difficult to do in this present set up.”
Officials have suggested they want to resume face-to-face talks as soon as it’s safe to do so.
But they have warned they are uncertain about when they could be given the go-ahead to reconvene proper negotiations.
Mr Frost and Mr Barnier are expected to hold talks before the end of the week to prepare for the next official round of negotiations.
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He wrote: “What is on offer is not a fair free trade relationship between close economic partners, but a relatively low-quality trade agreement coming with unprecedented EU oversight of our laws and institutions.
“We find it perplexing that the EU, instead of seeking to settle rapidly a high-quality set of agreements with a close economic partner, is instead insisting on additional, unbalanced, and unprecedented provisions in a range of areas, as a precondition for agreement between us.”
In response, Mr Barnier said his counterpart should watch his “tone”.