‘All options on the table’ in Brexit fishing dispute, France warns UK

Talks are ongoing between London, Paris and Brussels

Emily Atkinson
Monday 22 November 2021 22:51
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<p>The main source of contention is the number of licences granted to smaller French vessels to fish in waters around the British coastline</p>

The main source of contention is the number of licences granted to smaller French vessels to fish in waters around the British coastline

France has told the UK it is in its “best interest to settle” the post-Brexit fishing dispute, saying if the two countries are to work together the UK must remain “true” to their word.

Talks are ongoing between Britain, France and the European Union to settle the main source of contention, which is the number of licences granted to smaller French vessels to fish in waters around the British coastline.

The UK has already granted 961 fishing licenses to French boats, according to French authorities, but France is demanding around 150 more licenses.

France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune has also warned that, should the European Union fail to intervene over the issue of fishing rights, France will take their own “measures” against the UK.

Speaking at an event on Monday, he said: “We still have all options on the table, including these measures, we will prefer to have it on the EU level but if nothing happens at the EU level we will take French measures. But I don’t want to go into that.

“It would be a mistake to think you can have quick wins, or short-term wins, with your neighbours.

“If we want to work together ... on defence, and security, and foreign policy, and crises like the one we see in Belarus, or maybe in Ukraine, in the Balkans, which is a big concern for the UK as well, you need trust and to be true to your words. If we have doubts, it’ll never work.

“So I say to the UK again, this is (in) your best interest to settle this.

“We’re not there yet, that’s clear. So it’s not a satisfactory issue, not at all.”

It comes after France’s minister of the sea, Annick Girardin, vowed to “continue the fight” in the country’s dispute with Britain after meeting with fishermen in the north of the country on Sunday.

“We fight every day for these ships, for these licenses, and we will not give up,” she told reporters, criticising the British interpretation of post-Brexit rules over fishing rights as “inadmissible”.

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