News ID: 317445
Published: 0226 GMT October 29, 2021

France, Britain locked in fishing standoff as Brexit tensions mount

France, Britain locked in fishing standoff as Brexit tensions mount
SARAH MEYSSONNIER/REUTERS

A British trawler Cornelis Gert Jan is seen moored in the port of Le Havre on October 29, 2021 after France seized the British trawler fishing in its territorial waters without a license.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet French President Emmanuel Macron this weekend amid a row over post-Brexit fishing rights in which France has seized a British boat and London has threatened to board French trawlers.

The flare-up is part of a wider dispute over post-Brexit trade arrangements between Britain and the European Union that could severely disrupt cross-Channel trade and further undermine British-French relations if it spins out of control, Reuters reported.

Johnson’s spokesperson said the prime minister and Macron were expected to meet on the margins of the G20 summit of the world’s 20 biggest economies in Rome on Saturday and Sunday.

“He will discuss a range of issues,” he added, without giving details.

The German government on Friday called on Britain and France to work to resolve the increasingly bitter row, according to AFP.

“From our point of view, what’s important now is for both sides to return to the negotiations of the past weeks and months,” a German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman in Berlin told reporters.

France remained a close and strong ally of Britain, he added. France did not immediately comment on his remarks, according to Reuters.

France said this week it would impose sanctions on Britain if London does not allow more French trawlers to fish in UK waters, and it detained a British scallop dredger.

French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie said earlier on Friday there had been no progress in talks on granting more licenses for French vessels to fish in UK waters, and said it was right for France to prepare sanctions against Britain.

Facing the threat of extra customs checks on British goods and potentially higher energy tariffs from France if talks fail, British Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Two can play at that game.”

“Obviously it’s always open to us to always increase the enforcement that we do on French vessels, to board more of them if that’s what they’re doing to our vessels,” he told BBC television.

The Cornelis Gert Jan scallop dredger was escorted to the northern French port of Le Havre overnight on Wednesday after its crew failed to prove it was allowed to fish in French territorial waters, French officials said.

British officials said it had the correct documentation. The local prosecutor’s office said the vessel’s skipper will be called to appear before a court in Le Havre in August, 2022.

Britain’s departure from the EU last year deepened strains in its relations with France, and negotiations on fishing rights proved long and difficult even before it left the bloc.

France says Britain has refused to grant its fishermen the full number of licenses to operate in British waters that France says is warranted. Britain says it is issuing licenses to vessels that meet its criteria.

France has threatened to ban British fishing boats from unloading in French ports, carry out additional license checks on British vessels, tighten controls of trucks, reinforce customs and hygiene controls and raise power tariffs.

 

 

 

 

   
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