Post-Brexit fishing licenses: London threatens to tighten controls on European boats

In the Franco-British conflict over post-Brexit fishing licenses, London in turn brandishes threats of retaliation, before a meeting scheduled for this weekend between Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson.

The French president and the British prime minister are due to meet on the sidelines of the G20 this weekend in Rome, Downing Street reported on Friday. This meeting comes at a time when the subjects of contention accumulate between the two neighbors, on the hot topic of fishing but also on illegal immigration through the Channel or the consequences of Brexit in Northern Ireland.

France criticizes the United Kingdom for granting too few post-Brexit fishing licenses to its fishermen. She promised to ban British fishing vessels from unloading their cargo in French ports on Tuesday and to strengthen customs controls on trucks, if the situation does not improve by then.

Read the decryption: Article reserved for our subscribers France – United Kingdom: the multiple reasons for a deep quarrel

The tension rose again on Friday

Far from subsiding before the summit meeting in Rome, tension rose further on Friday with London’s threat to implement “Rigorous controls” on European ships spawning in its waters, if Paris actually carries out its threats, a British government spokesperson said on Friday.

The latter also considers “To launch a dispute settlement procedure” provided for in the post-Brexit trade agreement, which entered into force at the start of the year. The head of British diplomacy, Liz Truss, has decided to summon the French ambassador to the United Kingdom, Catherine Colonna, on Friday. It is an extremely rare step between allied countries.

The post-Brexit agreement, concluded in extremis at the end of 2020 between London and Brussels, provides that European fishermen can continue to work in certain British waters under certain conditions. London claims to have granted 98% of EU vessel license applications to fish in its waters, a figure disputed by France, which speaks of 90%. In areas still disputed in particular, London and Jersey have granted just over two hundred and ten definitive licenses, but Paris is still claiming over two hundred.

Read the story: Article reserved for our subscribers Fishing licenses: France decided to “speak the language of force” with the United Kingdom

“Come to your senses”

On the BBC, British Environment Minister George Eustice criticized France for adopting a “Your arsonist” and considered that the approach of the presidential election in France could constitute “A factor” explaining the French reaction.

Some EU members appear to be taking a cautious stance in the face of the conflict, with the German government calling on both sides to negotiate. In this conflict over fishing, “The wrongs are not really shared”, “Good faith is not on the British side”, however estimated Friday on Franceinfo Thierry Breton, the European commissioner for the internal market. “Perhaps it is time for the British authorities to come to their senses. “

L’accord commercial post-Brexit “Is clear: vessels fishing in traditional waters must be allowed to continue”, reacted in a tweet Thomas Byrne, the Irish Secretary of State for European Affairs.

A captain faces a fine of 75,000 euros

While waiting for a possible blockade of English landings in its ports on Tuesday, France has already started to strengthen controls on British ships. She confused a British trawler on Wednesday suspected of having caught more than two tonnes of unlicensed scallops. Its captain, who will be tried in August, faces a fine of 75,000 euros.

However, the retaliatory measures envisaged by France are not unanimous: French fishmongers, who prepare and sell fresh seafood, have warned against blocking the export of British fishery products, recalling that the French market was also dependent on this resource.

Read also French fishermen’s impatience with post-Brexit license negotiations

In the English port of Newhaven, in the south of England, British fishermen deplore paying the price for the situation. For Neil Whitney, boss of About Time, this conflict over fishing licenses in British and Channel waters is ” Politics “.

The World with AFP

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Post-Brexit fishing licenses: London threatens to tighten controls on European boats