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‘Fishing war’: France gives Britain more time and manages to lower tension

The fisheries war between France and Great Britain de-escalates to the rhythm of the climate change summit and the presence of other European leaders in Glasgow.

At midnight, French President Emmanuel Macron decided not to apply the sanctions that took effect on Tuesday, including the importation of British shellfish to France, the review of trucks entering and leaving France for Great Britain and the situation of the Scottish fishing vessel detained. in the port of Le Havre for fishing scallops without a license. He postponed them until Thursday.

The fishing vessel Cornelis Gert Jar, detained together with his Irish capital at Le Havre, was released. “The discussions are going to continue because clearly there was a clerical error at some point,” said British Environment Secretary George Eustive.

The Elysee Palace later specified, in a statement, that France would not apply a sanction until at least Thursday. This is the scheduled date for a meeting in Paris between the British Secretary of State in charge of Brexit, David Frost and the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, who invited him.

Despite the cordial smiles at the G20 and COP26, the post-Brexit tug-of-war continues over fishing and licenses for fishermen on the English Channel island between Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron. The British do not grant the licenses that French fishermen require.

French fishermen in the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, this Tuesday. Photo: REUTERS

Emmanuel Macron gesture

The French head of state resigned to apply sanctions at midnight to “give an opportunity” to the discussions that, at least, will continue until Thursday.

“It is not while we are negotiating that we are going to impose sanctions,” the French president told reporters on the sidelines of COP26 in Glasgow (UK). The next few hours are important hours, “said Emmanuel Macron.

“We have received the first signals from the British authorities to speed up trade. A response to the latest proposals from the French authorities is expected by Wednesday,” the French presidency said.

The British response

The British government “welcomed” the postponement of the sanctions. A spokesman for the Executive said he “welcomes France’s recognition that in-depth discussions are necessary to resolve all difficulties in the relationship between the UK and the EU.”

Downing St. assured that Lord David Frost, who should be in the meeting and negotiated Brexit as the worst of the Eurosceptics, “is delighted with the discussions, which will take place in Paris on Thursday.”


The French president said he “trusts that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will take seriously” the French proposals and that the discussions will lead to a “result”.

“For 10 months the results have been too slow, if this new method allows to have a result, I would like to give it a chance,” he added.

The help of Glasgow

The de-escalation was launched in Glasgow, in the framework of the climate summit. Macron and Boris Johnson had exchanged long minutes smiling in front of the cameras when the French president arrived at COP26 on Monday.

Other European leaders were there. Including Ursula Von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, pressured by France to sanction the kingdom.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday at the climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.  Photo: EFE

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday at the climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo: EFE

Officials from the two nations have been involved in talks called by the European Commission in Brussels.

A spokesman for the European Commission said: “The meeting made it possible to trace the way forward in various aspects, it was concluded to resume on Tuesday, to maintain the positive dynamics of the discussions. More meetings are planned ”.

Paris had threatened the application of sanctions again on Monday morning, starting at midnight, if London did not grant more licenses to French fishermen.

The french threaten to ban British fishing vessels from landing in French ports and tighten customs controls on all trucks, if London does not grant more licenses to French fishermen.

Compensatory measures

British Foreign Minister Liz Truss had indicated that in the absence of a solution “within 48 hours”, the British government would rely on the dispute settlement mechanism of the post-Brexit trade agreement to request “compensatory measures” .

London had warned that it was also preparing to tighten controls on European fishing vessels.

“This is what worried fishermen,” said Olivier Leprêtre, president of the Hauts-de-France (north) regional committee for maritime fishing, denouncing “the unacceptable attitude of the English and their failure to comply with the signed agreements” .

“The retaliatory measures are very good. It is the only solution.” But “Boris Johnson will not stop there” and “at the slightest problem we will have hijacked boats,” he lamented.

What does the Brexit deal say

Under the Brexit deal, European fishermen can continue to work in certain UK waters, provided they can prove that they fished there before. But the French and the British argue over the nature and scope of the supporting documents that need to be provided.

Caught up in this dispute between the two countries, Ian Gorst, Jersey’s Channel Island Foreign Minister, asked Sky News to “stop all this nonsense and deal with the technical issues”, allowing the issuance of licenses for fishing.

This expedient aggravates relations between Paris and London, already damaged by the abandonment of a Franco-Australian submarine contract, in favor of the Aukus defense agreement between Great Britain, which excludes France.

“We did not deface the Eiffel Tower,” Australia defended itself before criticism from Macron, who accused Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of “lying” about the submarine deal with France.

Paris, correspondent



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