PUBLISHED: 10:27, Fri, Oct 9, 2020 | UPDATED: 10:28, Fri, Oct 9, 2020
The Flemish government hopes to invoke a royal charter that dates back to 1666 to secure its right to fish in UK waters after Brexit. Fishing is one of the remaining sticking points in the negotiations between the EU and the UK on a future relationship. This week, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has urged member states to come up with a compromise.
However, countries sharing seas with Britain – the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and especially France – do not seem willing to abandon their tough line on the issue.
European Affairs minister Clement Beaune recently said France will not sell out its fishermen for a post-Brexit trade deal.
And in the case of a no deal scenario, the government of Flanders plans to fall back on a treaty issued by England's King Charles II in 1666 that grants 50 fishermen from the Flemish city of Bruges "eternal access" to British waters.
A spokesperson for Flemish Fisheries Minister Hilde Crevits said: "Our goal is to reach a negotiated deal.
Michel Barnier told EU fishermen can STILL fish in UK waters even in no deal scenario (Image: GETTY)
EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier (Image: GETTY)
"But if we don't reach a deal, we could invoke the charter.
"It dates back to 1666 but has been confirmed by a UK lawyer in 1820."
After seeking legal guidance, the government of Flanders has sent a copy of the charter to Mr Barnier.
The 350-year-old document was signed by King Charles II on October 2, 1666 as he wanted to express his gratitude for being granted refuge in Bruges during the Interregnum, having been driven from Britain in 1651 by Oliver Cromwell.
He regained the throne in June 1660 and was determined to thank his sympathisers from the Cromwell years thereafter.
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Flemish Fisheries Minister Hilde Crevits (Image: GETTY)
British fishermen (Image: GETTY)