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UPDATE 1-New French Europe minister: Brexit deal possible but not "at any price"

Wed, 29th Jul 2020 09:14

(Adds quotes, context)

PARIS, July 29 (Reuters) - France will continue to take a
tough line on defending the rights of French fishermen in Brexit
talks but a deal with the United Kingdom is still possible,
France's new European affairs minister Clement Beaune said on
Wednesday.

"We will not accept a deal at any price," he told France
Inter radio in his first public comments on Brexit since his
appointment on Sunday. "Better no deal at all than a bad deal,"
he said while adding that a deal was nevertheless the best
outcome for all concerned.

Britain and the European Union clashed last week over the
chances of securing a free trade agreement, with Brussels
deeming it "unlikely" but London holding out hope one could be
reached in September.

France is one of the coastal states that has pushed hardest
for EU fishermen to keep the right to fish in British waters
after a transition period ends at the end of this year.

Before becoming Europe minister, Beaune served as President
Emmanuel Macron's Europe adviser. A self-described anglophile,
he has advised Macron on Brexit negotiations since the 2016
referendum.

He said France would be "intransigent" on fishing, and will
not be "intimidated" by Britain in the negotiation "game".

"Let's not kid ourselves, if there is no deal, it will be a
difficult issue," he added. "We'll have to organise a response
for sectors like fisheries. Support our fishermen financially.
We're not there yet."
(Reporting by Michel Rose and Sudip Kar-Gupta
Editing by Gareth Jones and Peter Graff)

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