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France could veto 'bad' Brexit trade deal: French minister

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    Reuters

Paris, France   /   Fri, December 4, 2020   /   05:15 pm
France could veto 'bad' Brexit trade deal: French minister Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte (left) looks on next to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (second left), President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (second right) and France's President Emmanuel Macron prior the start of the European Council building in Brussels, on July 18, 2020, as the leaders of the European Union hold their first face-to-face summit over a post-virus economic rescue plan. - The EU has been plunged into a historic economic crunch by the coronavirus crisis, and EU officials have drawn up plans for a huge stimulus package to lead their countries out of lockdown (Pool/AFP/Francisco Seco)

There is still a risk that Britain and the European Union will fail to agree a post-Brexit trade deal, French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said on Friday, adding that, if a good deal cannot be reached France, will veto it.

"I want to tell our fishermen, our producers, the citizens who are listening that we will not acept a deal with bad terms," Beaune told Europe 1 radio. "If a good agreement cannot be reached, we will oppose it. Each country has a veto right, so it is possible ... We will do our own evaluation of this draft deal, if there is one."

Since Britain left the EU in January, each side has urged the other to make concessions to unlock a trade deal before Britain's transition period for leaving the bloc ends on Dec. 31.

Meanwhile, EU chief Charles Michel urged members to remain united behind Brussels' negotiators in post-Brexit trade talks Friday, after France threatened to veto any deal that gives ground to London.

Michel congratulated EU negotiator Michel Barnier on keeping member states informed of his progress in London, and added: "And so until the last minute, the last second of the procedure, we will guarantee that unity amongst ourselves."

The UK left the European Union on January 31 and its post-Brexit transition period stretches until the end of this month, when it leaves the EU single market.

Barnier is engaged in intense discussions in London with his UK counterpart David Frost on a trade deal to govern cross-Channel business ties from next year.

But European officials fear that if an accord is not found within days there will be no time for the member states or the European Parliament to ratify it.

Some EU members -- notably France and the Netherlands, whose boats fish in UK waters -- are now concerned that Barnier and the European Commission will give too much ground in the final hours of talks.