Fishing row POLL: Should Boris punish France for vicious threats to close French ports?
French fisheries may be exposed in UK 'tit-for-tat' says expert
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On Wednesday, Brexit tensions between Paris and London reached a tipping point, as Macron’s ministers threatened the UK with trade disruptions starting from November 2. French government spokesman Gabriel Attal told reporters measures targeting British fish exports would include “systematic customs and sanitary checks on products brought to France and a ban on landing seafood” – meaning British fishing boats would be banned from French ports.
But the threats did not end there, France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune said extra checks may be extended to “other merchandise” by “reinforcing our procedures and controls compared with current practices”.
France has also detained a British trawler on the grounds that it did not have a fishing licence, which has enraged Britons after a record-breaking year of illegal channel crossings.
Boris Johnson has responded to French threats in a Government statement, which read: “France’s threats are disappointing and disproportionate, and not what we would expect from a close ally and partner.
“The measures being threatened do not appear to be compatible with the (post-Brexit) Trade and Cooperation Agreement and wider international law, and, if carried through, will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response.
“We will be relaying our concerns to the EU commission and French government.”
Chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost added: “It is very disappointing that France has felt it necessary to make threats late this evening against the UK fishing industry and seemingly traders more broadly.
“As we have had no formal communication from the French Government on this matter, we will be seeking urgent clarification of their plans.
“We will consider what further action is necessary in that light.”
Do you think the UK should retaliate to Macron’s threats? Vote now.
Threats to cut off British energy supply have been hurled at the UK since May, but, as of yet, no action has been taken.
At the start of this month, French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin gave the UK until October 13 to approve fishing licenses to the 35 French boats it had rejected.
She wrote on Twitter: “The [French government] remains mobilized and will soon present retaliatory measures in response to the low number of licenses granted to French fishermen, necessary to operate in British waters.”
Despite threats, Downing Street has not budged, insisting the UK’s “approach has been reasonable and fully in line with our commitments in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement [Brexit deal]”.
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The UK rejected the applications on the grounds that they had not provided substantial evidence to prove a history of fishing in British waters.
The Brexit deal agreed the UK will have the right to completely exclude EU boats after 2026, but, from now until then, a transitional period will phase out EU boats – allowing fewer and fewer of to fish in UK waters over time.
This year, the UK has granted 98 percent of licence applications from EU vessels, but French ministers say this is not enough.
Secretary of State for France, Clement Beaune, said: “Enough already! We have an agreement negotiated by France, by Michel Barnier, and it should be applied 100 percent. It isn’t being.”
He added: “We will take measures at the European level or nationally, to apply pressure on the United Kingdom.
“We defend our interests. We do it nicely, and diplomatically, but when that doesn’t work, we take measures.
“For example, we can imagine, since we’re talking about energy…the United Kingdom depends on our energy supplies.
“It thinks that it can live all alone, and bash Europe.”
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So what “measures” can the UK take?
Earlier this year, the Prime Minister sent a Navy fleet to patrol and defend the shores of Jersey against around 50 protesting French boats.
As tensions continue to mount, speculation is rising as to whether Mr Johnson will introduce military intervention in the English Channel.
In 2020, the UK’s exports to France totalled $23.87billion, whereas French exports to the UK totalled $30.99billion.
France relies on the UK for products like machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers, aircrafts and other vehicles.
After major post-Brexit trade deals have been agreed with global leaders across the world, the UK could mirror France’s threats to block trade.
What measures do you think Boris Johnson could take if the French fishing row is not resolved? Let us know in the comment section below.
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