UK Denies Working to Meet EU-Issued Friday Deadline in Post-Brexit Fishing Row With France

© Sputnik / Sputnik FranceFrench fishermen blocking port access in Calais over a fishing row between France and the UK.
French fishermen blocking port access in Calais over a fishing row between France and the UK. - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.12.2021
Subscribe
International
India
Africa
On 1 December France’s minister for Europe Clement Beaune said French punitive measures, including a ban on British trawlers landing their catches in French ports and tighter customs checks remained “on the table” if a post-Brexit French-UK fishing licenses deal could not be reached.
The British government has denied it was working to meet any EU-issued deadline in the post-Brexit fishing row that has soured relations between the UK and France.
“We've never set a deadline. I recognise they (the EU) themselves have set one but it's not one we're working to," stated Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman on Thursday.
Downing Street added that Environment Secretary George Eustice was on schedule to meet with EU environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius on Friday, after the two officials had conferred on Wednesday evening about progress on the licensing issues.
At a previous meeting on 24 November Sinkevicius issued Britain a 10 December deadline to resolve the issue.
Underscoring that recent talks “have been constructive", Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said he was "not aware of certainly any communication we've had from the French government, certainly not to the Prime Minister".
"There's a technical process still ongoing based on evidence rather than set deadlines," added the Downing Street spokesman.
France Threatens ‘Litigation’
Earlier, the fishing row escalated as Annick Girardin, France's minister of the sea, threatened litigation if the 53 licences still awaiting British approval were not granted by Friday evening.
Speaking at a hearing with a senatorial committee, Girardin was cited by AFP as saying:
"If all the licences are not granted by tomorrow evening, France will request a meeting of the partnership council… to note the failure of the United Kingdom to respect its signature." After the UK issued 1,004 licences to French fishing boats, 94 licences remained pending, according to Girardin.
She added: "It is the Commission that will take the litigation and retaliatory measures if they must be applied."
In a statement on 16 November the British government said it has issued licences for 98% of the French applications, as well as all those who sought access to the 12 to 200 nautical mile zone away from the coast.
French fishermen blocking port access in Calais over a fishing row between France and the UK. - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.12.2021
France Wants EU to Intervene in Fishing Row With UK if Talks Fail
In accordance with the "EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement" signed by London and Brussels just before Christmas 2020, EU fishing boats can continue to fish in UK waters if they obtain a licence. For this, they must offer proof that they were previously fishing there. However, the demands have been slammed by the French side as too onerous, as many smaller boats lack the appropriate technology. Accordingly, many fishermen have failed to secure licences from authorities in the UK or the Channel island of Jersey.
Guernsey authorities, which had been renewing licences on a month-to-month basis while considering applications, issued fishing licences to 40 European Union boats on 1 December, enabling them to continue to fish in Guernsey waters from February 2022.
French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin said that while progress had been made with Guernsey, "the fight is not over", as Paris is demanding more fishing licences from London and the Channel Island of Jersey.
UK ‘Not Honouring its Word’
French President Emmanuel Macron weighed in on the strained relations between France and Britain, saying this was due to the current UK government not honouring its word.
At the Élysée press conference to present France’s plans for its rotating presidency of the council of the European Union, Macron accused London of failing to keep its word on Brexit and fishing licences.
“The problem with the British government is that it does not do what it says,” said Macron at a news conference, adding:
“(The British government) signed a withdrawal agreement which requires commitments to our fishermen.Tomorrow we, alongside the European Commission, will find out if these agreements are not respected. There has been progress in recent weeks. I wish to salute that, there is a sincere re-engagement and I hope with all my heart that new paths open up.”
UK-France Fishing Spat
In late November French fishermen disrupted cross-Channel traffic for hours as they protested over post-Brexit fishing rights granted by Britain. The French boats blocked access to ferries at the northern port of Calais and the port of Ouistreham in Normandy.
In May, tensions over access to the self-governing British crown dependencies in the Channel prompted French trawlers to briefly encircle Jersey's main port.
© Sputnik / Sputnik FranceFrench fishermen blocking port access in Calais over a fishing row between France and the UK.
French fishermen blocking port access in Calais over a fishing row between France and the UK. - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.12.2021
French fishermen blocking port access in Calais over a fishing row between France and the UK.
On 1 December France’s minister for Europe Clement Beaune said French punitive measures remained “on the table” if a deal could not be reached ahead of the deadline. These include a ban on British trawlers offloading their catches in French ports and stricter customs checks.
“It was the European Commission that told the British – so all of Europe together – that if you don’t make big gestures with a lot of licences on December 10, we are no longer in a European dialogue,” Beaune said on French radio network RTL.
He added that “all options are on the table, because it’s better to have a dialogue, but … if it doesn’t bear fruit we can take European measures.”
Previously France threatened similar punitive actions from midnight on 2 November, yet backed down, allowing for further negotiations.
Newsfeed
0
To participate in the discussion
log in or register
loader
Chats
Заголовок открываемого материала