Brexit: France says it will fight for every last fishing licence
France says it will fight for every last fishing licence ahead of tomorrow’s European deadline for UK to agree post-Brexit deal for 100 more boats
- France has said it will fight for every fishing licence ahead of EU deadline for UK
- France’s seas minister Annick Girardin said that ‘nobody should be left stranded’
- European Union has said the fishing dispute must be resolved by December 10
- France has become angry UK and Channel Islands have not issued all licences
- Paris has accused London repeatedly of acting in bad faith, which the UK denies
France has said it will continue to fight for every last fishing licence ahead of Friday’s deadline for the UK to agree to a post-Brexit deal for 100 more boats.
Just one day before the deadline, France claimed it was still waiting for Britain to approve almost 100 licences for its fishermen to operate in UK territorial waters and off the coast of Jersey, adding that last-minute negotiations were ongoing.
Under a deal agreed by London and Brussels late last year, European fishing vessels can continue to ply UK waters if they apply for new licences and can prove they operated there in the past.
But France has become infuriated that Britain and the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey have not issued some French boats licences to fish in their waters after Brexit.
Now, France’s seas minister Annick Girardin said the Government will continue to fight for every single licence ahead of the December 10 deadline for the UK, which was set by the European Union in a bid to resolve the worsening post-Brexit row.
France said it was waiting for Britain to approve almost 100 licences for fishermen to operate in UK territorial waters. Pictured: French fishermen wave a banner during a blockade in Calais
‘Nobody should be left stranded on the dock,’ she told ministers.
She said the licences were ‘more or less confirmed’, adding that 53 of the missing licences are to fish in in the water 6 to 12 miles off Britain’s shores.
Girardin said these types of licences were sought by boats which had replaced older vessels, with Britain arguing that it cannot prove a history of fishing in these waters.
Fishing rights plagued Brexit talks and continue to poison relations between Britain and France due to the political resonance of the issue for both sides.
Paris has accused London repeatedly of acting in bad faith and failing to honour the post-Brexit trade deal it signed up to, a charge that Britain denies.
Britain and the EU agreed to set up a licensing system to grant fishing vessels access to each other’s waters but France says it has not been given the full number it is due, while Britain says only those lacking the correct documentation have not been granted.
France’s seas minister Annick Girardin (pictured) said the Government would continue to fight for every single licence ahead of the European Union’s December 10 deadline for the UK
Last week, France’s minister for Europe has called on the European Union to take retaliatory measures against Britain if there is no resolution to the post-Brexit row by December 10.
Clement Beaune stressed it is not a Franco-British issue, but a problem between the whole of the European Union and the UK.
Mr Beaune said French punitive measures – such as a ban on British trawlers landing their catches in French ports and tighter customs checks to hamper cross-Channel trade – remain ‘on the table’ if a deal cannot be reached.
He told French radio network RTL: ‘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.’
On the potential ban by the French, Mr Beaune added: ‘It’s one of the possible options but it’s better, to be honest, to have European measures.
‘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.’
Mr Beaune said talks between Britain, France and the European Commission on the issue have intensified and are happening daily.
France has become infuriated that Britain and the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey have not issued some French boats licences to fish in their waters after Brexit. Pictured: French fisherman block the entrance to port of Saint Malo on November 26 amid row
France’s maritime minister Annick Girardin also warned of European retaliatory measures, telling the Ouest France newspaper that ‘London is testing the solidarity of the European Union’ in the spat.
A UK Government spokesperson previously said: ‘We continue to have technical discussions with the European Commission and French authorities.
‘Our approach to fisheries licences is evidence-based and completely in line with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
‘In total, we have licensed nearly 1,700 EU vessels to fish in our waters.
‘Where vessels have provided the required evidence, we have issued licences and will continue to do so.’
Earlier this month, France claimed a significant victory in the fishing wars after Guernsey approved all licences Paris said its fishermen were untitled to under Brexit.
Some 40 vessels who had requested licences and were registered in either Brittany or Normandy have been approved, with another three to be issued later, authorities on the Channel island said.
‘As the deadline fixed by the European Commission approaches, the issuance of 43 licences is excellent news for our fishermen,’ Annick Girardin, France’s seas minister, said on Twitter.
The licences that were agreed will enable 40 vessels to continue to fish in Guernsey waters from February 2022.
President Emmanuel Macron (pictured with Boris Johnson), who faces an election next year, said his government will not rest until his fishermen have all the licences Paris says are owed
France claimed a victory in the fishing wars after Guernsey approved all licences Paris said its fishermen were untitled to under Brexit. Pictured: Boats moored in port of Boulogne, France
The other vessels on the interim list will be able to fish until January 31, 2022.
After that, they will no longer be allowed, unless they can provide evidence that they historically fished in the waters.
‘We have reached a significant milestone in our licensing roadmap announced back in September,’ said Guernsey official Jonathan Le Tocq.
‘We value our good relationships with Normandy, Brittany and La Manche, and I hope that today’s announcement provides welcome certainty and stability in this new era,’ he added.
Guernsey and Jersey, both British Crown Dependencies, lie far closer to the northern shores of France than to Britain.
President Emmanuel Macron, who faces an election next year, has said his government will not rest until his fishermen have all the licences Paris says are owed.
Amid the row, French fishermen temporarily blockaded the port of Calais and Channel Tunnel rail last month in an effort to disrupt trade between Britain and the continent.
Half a dozen fishing boats blocked access to ferries at the northern port of Calais and the port of Ouistreham in Normandy to the southwest.
In May, as tensions over access to the self-governing British crown dependencies in the Channel boiled over, French trawlers briefly encircled Jersey’s main port (pictured)
And in May, as tensions over access to the self-governing British crown dependencies in the Channel boiled over, French trawlers briefly encircled Jersey’s main port.
France and Britain have also been embroiled in a diplomatic row on migrants in the wake of dozens of people dying while attempting to cross the Channel to the UK last month.
France has rejected Boris Johnson’s offer to help patrol its beaches, with prime minister Jean Castex saying hundreds British personnel would not be allowed on its shores to re-enforce efforts to stop desperate migrants from crossing the Channel.
Mr Johnson also called for a ‘returns agreement’, meaning all migrants who arrive in England will be sent back across the Channel, but Mr Castex rejected the proposal in a letter.
Meanwhile, No10 has rejected a French plan for a joint processing centre for migrants in Calais. The idea, which is thought to have been included in the letter from Mr Castex, would see the UK help fund and operate a centre for processing the asylum claims of migrants wanting to travel to this country.
The PM’s official spokesman said the Government did not want to ‘further incentivise’ desperate people to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean in the hope of getting to the UK.
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