Status: 10/28/2021 9:22 p.m.
The dispute over fishing licenses between France and Great Britain is coming to a head: London has called in the French ambassador. Meanwhile, Paris continues to threaten sanctions and arrests a British cutter.
In the dispute over fishing licenses with France, the British government has called in the French ambassador. As announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office, Foreign Minister Liz Truss summoned Ambassador Catherine Colonna. The ambassador should explain the “disappointing and disproportionate threats against Great Britain and the Channel Islands” on Friday, said British Foreign Minister Liz Truss.
The French fisheries minister Annick Girardin had previously confirmed that the government in Paris would defend the rights of French fishermen. “We have fishing rights. We have to defend them and we defend them,” she told RTL radio station.
European State Secretary Clément Beaune repeated on CNews the threat to subject British boats to strict customs and security controls in the future. “We will show no tolerance, no indulgence.” Paris wants to get London to fish more French boats in British waters.
Great Britain sees possible violation of international law
Following yesterday’s threat by France not to allow British fishing boats to enter French ports until the beginning of next week without an agreement, Great Britain already spoke of a possible violation of international law. “We regret the confrontational language that has been used repeatedly by the French government on this matter,” said the UK government. It threatened retaliation if France took threatened measures.
“The threats from France are disappointing and disproportionate and not what we would expect from a close ally and partner,” said the British government. The planned measures seem to be “incompatible” with the Brexit agreement “and broader international law”.
France is demanding more licenses
The background to the dispute is the issue of fishing licenses. Paris complains that the British authorities are not granting French fishermen enough permits for their waters in the English Channel. As a result of Great Britain’s exit from the EU, an agreement was signed between London and Brussels, according to which European fishermen are only allowed to continue fishing in British waters with a permit. In order to obtain a license, a fisherman must prove that he was previously active in these waters.
In the meantime, further permits have been granted. France believes, however, that it has only received 50 percent of the licenses to which it is entitled, said French government spokesman Gabriel Attal.
Further measures cannot be ruled out
France also threatened to tighten customs, security and other controls on British boats and trucks traveling between the two countries. In addition, there could be measures aimed at energy supplies to Great Britain, Attal threatened after a cabinet meeting yesterday.
British Brexit Minister David Frost replied on Twitter: “It is very disappointing that France considers it necessary to threaten the British fishing industry and, it appears, traders in general, late in the evening.” He will now seek clarification in Paris, and he is also considering “what measures we should take in view of this information”.
British boat arrested
France also arrested a British cutter on Thursday. A second boat was cautioned because it was said to have been sailing in French waters without a license. The French Minister for Fisheries, Annick Girardin, said that the boat had been confiscated during an inspection near Le Havre because it had fished illegally there. “It’s not a war, but it’s a fight,” she told RTL radio.
The British government was irritated by this step and asked for the matter to be resolved. A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the British ambassador to France was already in talks with the French minister for Europe.
British waters are among the richest in fish in the North Atlantic and account for most of the EU catch. The negotiations between the EU Commission and the government in London on the specific structure of the fishery continued this week. The fisheries were the most sensitive issue in the exit negotiations, alongside the status of Northern Ireland.
Fisheries dispute between Paris and London
Sabine Wachs, ARD Paris, October 28, 2021 1:46 p.m.