France Vows to 'Speak Language of Strength' With UK as Fishing Rights Row Escalates

© AFP 2022 / SAMEER AL-DOUMYA French fishing boat, one of several, takes part in a protest in front of the port of Saint Helier off the British island of Jersey to draw attention to what they see as unfair restrictions on their ability to fish in UK waters after Brexit, on May 6, 2021. -
A French fishing boat, one of several, takes part in a protest in front of the port of Saint Helier off the British island of Jersey to draw attention to what they see as unfair restrictions on their ability to fish in UK waters after Brexit, on May 6, 2021. - - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.10.2021
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On Wednesday, UK Cabinet Office Minister David Frost described France's threats to block British boats from French ports as "very disappointing".
France's European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune has threatened to take a zero tolerance attitude towards the UK and block access to virtually all British boats until London grants the necessary licenses to French fishermen.
"I stand by the fact we pursued dialogue until now, we got half of the fishing licenses today, but that's not enough and not acceptable. So now, we need to speak the language of strength since that seems to be the only thing this British government understands", he told CNews TV on Thursday.
French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin, in turn, stated on Thursday that Paris could ban UK fishing boats from disembarking at French ports if bilateral tensions over post-Brexit fishing persist.
She added that it's not serious to say France сould cut off electricity to the UK as a punitive measure, but that on the other hand, Paris could examine France's electricity tariffs to Britain. Girardin described the ongoing post-Brexit fishing tensions between Britain and France as "combat" rather than "war".
The remarks came after the French Maritime Ministry said earlier in the day that they had given verbal warnings to two British boats that were fishing in waters off the French port of Le Havre.
According to the ministry, one of the boats was redirected to the French harbour, with the vessel's captain facing legal action and confiscation of the boat's catch.
The developments follow the UK responding to Paris' threats of sanctions after London declined post-Brexit permits to 35 small French boats to fish in British waters.

Cabinet Office Minister Lord David Frost, formerly Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief negotiator with Brussels, tweeted on Wednesday that it was "very disappointing" to see Paris issuing threats to block British boats from French ports.

Frost stressed that Downing Street had received no formal notification from the Elysee Palace on the issue.
The remarks came after a Downing Street spokesperson warned that London would respond to the unilateral French sanctions and file a protest with the European Commission.
"The measures being threatened do not appear to be compatible with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and wider international law", the spokesperson said. "If carried through, [they] will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response", the spokesperson stated.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, the French Maritime and European Affairs Ministries threatened increased customs and hygiene checks on imports arriving from the UK, potentially snarling up deliveries and banning British fishing boats docking in some French ports to sell their catches.
"A second round of measures is being prepared. France is not ruling out reviewing its power supply to the UK", the ministries added.
French fishing boats leave the Jersey waters following their protest in front of the port of Saint Helier off the British island of Jersey to draw attention to what they see as unfair restrictions on their ability to fish in UK waters after Brexit, on May 6, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.10.2021
France Does Not Rule Out Power Supply Cuts to UK’s Jersey, Diplomat Says
Earlier this month, French Prime Minister Jean Castex urged the European Commission to strictly oversee compliance with the obligations undertaken by the UK on the issue of granting licenses, adding that Paris does not rule out a revision of bilateral cooperation with London in various areas in case of non-compliance with the agreements.
In late September, the British Ministry of the Environment reported that 1,700 vessels from the EU received licenses to fish in the UK's waters, of which 117 were issued to vessels from the EU for fishing in a zone of 6-12 nautical miles.
The ministry granted only 12 licenses to French fishermen, having considered 47 applications. British officials called the decision "reasonable" and well within London's obligations under the Brexit agreement with the European Union.
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