Posted on Oct 14, 2021 7:45 AMUpdated Oct 14, 2021, 8:56 AM
Eight days. This is the timeframe left by France to the United Kingdom to grant more licenses to French fishermen. If by then “we have no British signals for concerts on the issue of licenses”, “we will announce measures of response, retaliation, or retaliation if necessary”, warned, Wednesday evening in the Senate, Clément Beaune, the French Secretary of State for European Affairs.
These measures could be national or European, he said. Paris is threatening in particular to reduce its deliveries of electricity to Jersey and to take measures in the financial or research sector.
Too few licenses granted
“We were very patient, too patient […] . The British do not want to give out a certain number of licenses not because they lack information but because they have made this political choice, ”insisted the Secretary of State.
The post-Brexit agreement, reached in extremis at the end of last year between London and Brussels, provides that European fishermen can continue to work in certain British waters on condition that they obtain a license, granted if they can prove that they fished there before. But the French and the British have been clashing for several days over the nature and extent of the supporting documents to be provided.
In the still disputed fishing zones, within the limit of 6 to 12 nautical miles from the British coasts and the Channel Islands, London and Jersey have already granted a total of just over 200 definitive licenses. Paris is still claiming 244.
A “European problem”
“It’s not a French problem […]. It is a European problem ”, insisted Clément Beaune, recalling that Belgium and Ireland were also concerned. “We are mobilizing our European partners,” he added.
Eleven countries, including France, which called for a European front against London after the British decisions on fishing licenses, signed a joint declaration on Monday criticizing the United Kingdom’s responses to this issue. In addition to France, the signatories are Germany, Belgium, Cyprus, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.
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