Britain Threatens to ‘Take Action Unless France Backs Down’ in Fishing Rights Row

© REUTERS / Pascal RossignolThe French trawler "Thomas Nicolas II" sails past a Dutch trawler in the North Sea, off the coast of northern France, December 7, 2020. Picture taken with a drone December 7, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo/File Photo
The French trawler Thomas Nicolas II sails past a Dutch trawler in the North Sea, off the coast of northern France, December 7, 2020. Picture taken with a drone December 7, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo/File Photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.11.2021
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Paris has been lobbing threats at London, arguing that the UK issued 50% fewer licenses to French boats than it was supposed to in line with previously concluded post-Brexit agreements. intimidation ranged from promises to block its ports and carry out security checks on British vessels to reinforced controls of lorry traffic and customs.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has warned France to back down in the post-Brexit fishing licences row within 48 hours or face legal action from Britain under the trade deal negotiated when the country exited the EU bloc.

"The French have made completely unreasonable threats, including to the Channel Islands and to our fishing industry, and they need to withdraw those threats or else we will use the mechanisms of our trade agreement with the EU to take action," Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was cited as saying by Sky News.

Truss was speaking at the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow.
© REUTERS / HENRY NICHOLLSBritain's Secretary of State of International Trade and Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss is seen outside Downing Street, in London, Britain March 17, 2020.
Britain's Secretary of State of International Trade and Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss is seen outside Downing Street, in London, Britain March 17, 2020. - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.11.2021
Britain's Secretary of State of International Trade and Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss is seen outside Downing Street, in London, Britain March 17, 2020.

Belligerent Rhetoric

France had earlier warned it might bar UK fishing boats from some ports and tighten customs checks on lorries entering the country with British goods from Tuesday unless more licences to fish in UK waters are released.
"The French have behaved unfairly. It's not within the terms of the trade deal. And if somebody behaves unfairly in a trade deal, you're entitled to take action against them and seek some compensatory measures. And that is what we will do if the French don't back down," insisted the UK Foreign Secretary.
Truss suggested that France, in its recent belligerent rhetoric, might be driven by concerns pertaining to the upcoming French elections.
On 29 October George Eustice, the UK’s environment secretary, similarly suggested that the upcoming election in France may be a “factor” contributing to Paris’s confrontational approach.
“I don’t know, but there obviously is an election coming up in France, it may be that is a factor in this,” Eustice told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Earlier, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman suggested Paris had given no indication it would back down from its deadline of Tuesday to enflict chaos on cross-Channel trade with fresh port restrictions and border checks.
“We stand ready to respond should they proceed to breaking the Brexit agreement,” Johnson's spokesman told reporters at the G20 summit in Rome on the weekend.
The British Prime Minister had also warned European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that French threats over post-Brexit fishing licences were "completely unjustified" and "do not appear to be compatible with the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement or wider international law," according to a statement from the PM's office in the wake of a bilateral meeting in Rome at the G20 summit.
Johnson did not rule out invoking a dispute settlement process allowed under the Brexit deal terms in response to Paris' actions.
Speaking in the Italian capital on Saturday, Johnson was cited by Sky News as confirming his government would not rule out formal action under the post-Brexit trade and cooperation agreement if France was seen to have breached its terms.
“No of course not, I don’t rule that out. But what I think everybody wants to see it cooperation between the European allies,” he said.
© 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, 01.11.2021
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. -
In response, von der Leyen tweeted that the European Commission was "intensively engaging for finding solutions" on the fishing spat and the Northern Ireland issue that have soured UK relations with France and the EU bloc.
In an interview with the Financial Times, France’s president Emmanuel Macron, ahead of his meeting with Boris Johnson at the G20 in Rome on Sunday, said the fishing row was a test of the UK’s credibility.
“Make no mistake, it is not just for the Europeans but all of their partners. Because when you spend years negotiating a treaty and then a few months later you do the opposite of what was decided on the aspects that suit you the least, it is not a big sign of your credibility," he said.
As Macron and Johnson met for about 25 minutes on the sidelines of a G20 summit, they agreed to work on "practical and operational measures" to resolve the UK-EU row over fishing rights.

Festering Fishing Row

As part of post-Brexit arrangements, which includes the UK leaving the EU’s common fisheries policy, French trawlers are required to provide historical GPS data to prove they worked in those waters before Brexit. Paris, however, has been angered by the decision last month taken by both the UK and the Crown Dependency Channel Island of Jersey to refuse dozens of French fishing boats licences to operate in their territorial waters, issuing 50 percent fewer than it was “entitled to”, according to French government spokesman Gabriel Attal.
Against this backdrop, on 27 October France suggested it might start taking steps against the UK over the issue, such as extra border checks and bans on the UK boats accessing French ports. The next day, French authorities fined two British boats and detained a UK trawler, 'Cornelis Gert Jan', overnight, for ostensibly catching scallops in its waters without a license.
© REUTERS / ARJAN BUURVELDBritish fishing trawler Cornelis Gert Jan is pictured at sea near Stellendam, Netherlands March 8, 2021 in this social media image taken with a drone
British fishing trawler Cornelis Gert Jan is pictured at sea near Stellendam, Netherlands March 8, 2021 in this social media image taken with a drone - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.11.2021
British fishing trawler Cornelis Gert Jan is pictured at sea near Stellendam, Netherlands March 8, 2021 in this social media image taken with a drone
The British government, commenting on the statements about the upcoming sanctions from Paris, slammed France's actions "disappointing and disproportionate", and not expected from a "closest ally and partner".
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