France won’t bow to sunday Brexit deadline if deal requires time

France won’t try to get a Brexit deal through by Sunday at any cost as the parties are negotiating the biggest accord in the European Union’s (EU) history and such agreements are known to take many years of discussions, French European Affairs junior minister Clement Beaune said in an interview on France Inter radio on Sunday.

“It would be normal not to say, well it’s Sunday evening so let’s wrap it and sacrifice everything,” Beaune said. “It may be hard and sometimes tough to understand, but it’s necessary to take the time, and at any rate not to sacrifice our interests under the pressure of a calendar.”

Brexit trade talks may be in a decisive weekend with neither side confident of a deal after a frantic 24 hours exposed just how far apart the UK and EU still are. Fishing and competition conditions remain issues and negotiating under the pressure of a deadline isn’t appropriate, Beaune said.

According to officials close to the negotiations, the UK on Thursday rejected an EU offer that would see the bloc lose around 22% of the current 650 million euros ($797 million) of fish caught annually in British waters. After consultation with the capitals on Friday, the EU offered 25% and this was again rejected. The U.K. is pushing the reduction to be closer to 60%, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

France doesn’t expect chaos in a no-deal scenario as it has prepared, Beaune said. French President Emmanuel Macron, who came down with coronavirus this week, is tired but well and following the talks very closely, he said.

France is also concerned about competition conditions and said that it won’t accept UK companies’ access to the EU market unless its rules are complied with. The UK also has to accept that participating in EU programs will cost more, and not less, as a non-EU member, he said.

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