MADRID, 12 Dic. (EUROPA PRESS) –
The British Royal Navy prepares four patrol boats that will be ready, from January 1 and if there is a Brexit without agreement, to protect their fishing waters, and with the power to “stop, inspect and confiscate” all European Union fishing vessels operating within the British Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), up to 200 nautical miles from the coast.
As sources close to the operation have explained to ‘The Guardian’, this deployment has been in preparation for “a long time”, and after the Government of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered to double the total fleet of patrol boats from four to eight in the event that the negotiations with Brussels do not bear fruit.
“We have worked hard to ensure that we are prepared for any eventuality,” according to a source.
However, those consulted by the media assure that the patrol boats will act with maximum restraint. “Nobody is going to shoot French fishermen, not even warning shots. Weapons are only used when there is danger of death,” they point out. Instead, the usual procedure would consist of a peaceful approach and boarding.
This operation is reminiscent of what happened during the “cod wars” of the 70s between British and Icelandic fishing boats, characterized by constant clashes and attacks between ships from both countries, and which even led to sporadic shootings.
The British Prime Minister acknowledged this Friday that it is “very likely” that the United Kingdom will not close an agreement with the EU on the future relationship before December 31, unless there is a “great offer” from the European side.
Speaking to the British press, the ‘premier’ stressed that the negotiations continue and there could still be “a great offer, a great change in what they say, but I have not seen it yet.”
Although “progress” can still be made, he acknowledged that “it is very, very likely” that there will be no agreement. This “solution”, he stressed, is not what the United Kingdom was trying to “achieve” but it will be “wonderful” for the country: “We will be able to do whatever we want from January 1”. Furthermore, he has been convinced that the country will be “prepared” for this eventuality.
The statement by Johnson agrees with the message that the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who had dinner with the ‘premier’ on Wednesday, has transferred to the EU heads of state and government this Friday. Thus, he has told them that he believes that the chances of the negotiations failing are “greater” than the options of saving the agreement between now and Sunday, which is the deadline given to Brussels and London to make a decision.
In any case, the negotiating teams, led by Michel Barnier and Britain’s David Frost, will continue their efforts to reach a minimum agreement between now and Saturday night. The European negotiator will then assess the situation and convey his conclusions to Von der Leyen so that he and Johnson can make a decision on Sunday.
The transition period agreed to allow the negotiation of a future agreement before the definitive disconnection expires on December 31, but any agreement that the parties reached to avoid a brave break on January 1 would need weeks for its complete ratification, because it must first be translated into all EU languages and submitted, at least, to the vote of the European Parliament.