'Talks Need to Continue': Macron Backslides on His Vow to Sanction UK Over Paris-London Fishing Row
Late last week, France threatened to slap sanctions on the UK over London's alleged refusal to issue enough fishing licenses for French fishermen to access British waters under the Brexit trade deal.
French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a continuation of the nations' talks
over a bilateral fishing row, making it clear that he will not introduce the retaliatory steps against the UK that he pledged to impose just hours ago.
"Since this afternoon, discussions have resumed on the basis of a proposal I made to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The talks need to continue. My understanding is that the British were going to come back to us tomorrow with other proposals. All that will be worked on. We'll see where we are tomorrow at the end of the day, to see if things have really changed", Macron reportedly told journalists at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
The French president earlier said that "the ball is in Britain's court" and that "if the British make no movement, the measures of 2 November will have to be put in place", in an apparent nod to sanctions Paris threatened to impose on London last week over the two's fishing spat.
A UK government spokesperson responded by saying in a statement that London welcomes the French government's latest announcement that "they will not go ahead with implementing their proposed measures as planned tomorrow".
"The UK has set out its position clearly on these measures in recent days. As we have said consistently, we are ready to continue intensive discussions on fisheries, including considering any new evidence to support the remaining license applications", the statement noted.
The spokesperson added that the British government hails "France's acknowledgement that in-depth discussions are needed to resolve the range of difficulties in the UK/EU relationship".
29 October 2021, 14:10 GMT
According to the statement, UK Cabinet Office Minister David Frost has accepted an invitation by France's secretary of state for European Affairs to discuss the fisheries dispute between the two countries.
The statement came after UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned on Monday that France has 48 hours to settle its dispute over new fishing licenses in UK waters before London triggers the legal mechanism set out in the post-Brexit trade agreement.
"This issue needs to be resolved in the next 48 hours", Truss told Sky News, adding that "the French have behaved unfairly" which entitles London to take actions against them and seek some compensatory measures.
She spoke after Paris promised last week to impose sanctions against Britain on 2 November over London's alleged refusal to issue enough fishing licenses for French fishermen to access British waters under the Brexit deal.
The row escalated after France's Maritime Ministry said last Thursday that it had given verbal warnings to two British boats that were fishing in the 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.
UK-France Fishing Dispute
Earlier this month, French Prime Minister Jean Castex called on the European Commission to strictly oversee compliance with the obligations undertaken by the UK on the issue of granting fishing 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.
29 October 2021, 06:44 GMT
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 bloc for fishing in a zone of 6-12 nautical miles.
At the same time, 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 EU.