France will oppose any deal between the EU and Britain that “sacrifices” its fishermen, and Paris will not yield to the UK’s pressure, European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune has said.

Brussels and London are trying to sign a deal on their future trade ties before the United Kingdom leaves the EU next year, and the negotiations are complex, Beaune told RMC radio.

Fisheries remain one of the most contentious issues.Beaune said France would veto any agreement it considered a “bad” deal.

On fisheries there is no reason to yield to Britain’s pressure. We can make some efforts but sacrificing fisheries and fishermen, no.

It is not clear if the post-Brexit deal can be reached before the end of the year, but Beaune said: “I do not want to acknowledge a failure [of the talks]. I think we still have a few days to negotiate.”

Speaking on the same issue on December 4, the French minister warned of the risk of not reaching a trade deal. “If a good agreement cannot be reached, we will oppose it. Each country has a veto right,” he told Europe 1 radio.

If an agreement is not reached by the end of the year, Britain and EU member states may introduce import charges on goods. UK Health Minister Matt Hancock told Sky on Tuesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson “is straining every sinew to try to get a deal that works for both the UK and the EU.” The deal “is potentially doable but the EU obviously has to want to do it,” he added.

The talks have reached a critical stage, and Johnson will now travel to Brussels to meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and try to secure the deal.

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