France could ‘veto’ bad Brexit deal: Europe Minister

PARIS (AFP) – France could use its veto to block a post-Brexit deal with the United Kingdom (UK) if it does not meet Paris’ demands, especially on fishing, Europe Minister Clement Beaune said yesterday.

“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 European Union (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.