Jersey fishing: Deal with France 'not working' says Thompson
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French maritime minister Annick Girardin said on Twitter that the trawler was rerouted to the port of Le Havre under a maritime police escort. France is furious that Britain has refused to grant its fishermen the full number of licences to operate inside British water that Paris says is warranted, and on Wednesday announced retaliatory measures that could come into effect from November 2 if no progress is made in talks.
Those measures include additional customs checks on goods entering the European continent through France’s border and prohibiting British fishing boats from unloading in several French ports, the French government said.
Responding to the bitter attack, a UK Government spokesman said: “France’s threats are disappointing and disproportionate, and not what we would expect from a close ally and partner.
“The measures being threatened do not appear to be compatible with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) and wider international law, and, if carried through, will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response.”
Brexit Minister David Frost was also quick to respond to the affront, tweeting that it was “very disappointing” to see France’s threats.
Lord Frost also said the Government had received “no formal communication” from the French government and they would be “seeking urgent clarification” about the matter.
Britain has said it has issued fishing licenses to vessels that have been able to demonstrate a track record of operating in its waters in the years running up to its withdrawal from the European Union on January 31, 2020.
Negotiations between Britain and the European Commission over the affair have continued this week.
Tensions caused both France and Britain to dispatch maritime vessels off the shores of Jersey earlier this year.
Patience in Paris has worn thin over what French officials call Britain’s failure to honour its word since Brexit, over fishing and also Britain’s demand to renegotiate the Northern Ireland protocol aimed at maintaining the integrity of the EU single market.
French maritime gendarmes conducted multiple checks on fishing vessels off Le Havre, northern France, overnight, Girardin’s ministry said, as France intensifies its surveillance during the negotiations.
This morning, Clement Beaune, France’s Europe minister, said that France will adopt a zero tolerance attitude towards Britain and block access to virtually all its boats until it awards the fishing licences France says its fishermen need in its post-Brexit dispute.
Reiterating his government’s threats to the UK, he said: “I stand by the fact we pursued dialogue until now, we got half of the fishing licences today, but that’s not enough and not acceptable.
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“So now, we need to speak the language of strength since that seems to be the only thing this British government understands.”
France has sought backing from other European nations in the battle to obtain licences, however, the European Commission has called for a diplomatic solution to the problem.
Fishermen in France have so far claimed that the negotiations have been too timid between Paris and London and could take matters into their own hands.
Olivier Leretre, chairman of the Regional Fishing Committee in Hauts-de-France, says his members are considering blocking products being exported to the UK from France at the Calais ferry port.
Such a move could see thousands of lorries being stopped from crossing the channel, meaning fresh goods, produce, meat and dairy items could perish.
For Emmanuel Macron, the fishing wars as they have been dubbed by some could be a make-or-break move as he approaches the end of his first term in office prior to the elections.
With a first term riddled with issues, from the yellow vest movement to the poor handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, Mr Macron is under pressure to deliver to the electorate.
With many of France’s fishermen living in the North of the country, far-right candidates, who traditionally perform well in the North, will be targeting the area in an attempt to displace the incumbent President after just one term.
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