Brexit: Fishing row could be ‘getting ugly’ says Andy Mayer
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Olivier Lepretre, chairman of the Regional Maritime Fisheries Committee in northern France, confirmed the meeting for the start of next week. Furious French fishermen had threatened protests from this weekend if progress was not made on the issue. The National Committee of Maritime Fishermen (CNPMEM) had said ongoing talks with the UK has only resulted in a handful of fishing licences for French fisherman in British waters.
The association deemed the step-down from Britain to not be enough as both sides attempt to resolve the post-Brexit row between Britain and France.
A statement from the CNPMEM said France’s seas minister, Annick Girardin, assured fishermen she would not give up the fight to obtain post-Brexit licences for French fishermen.
Earlier this week, the fishing row erupted when France set a two-week deadline for Britain and Jersey to give French fishermen greater access to their coastal waters.
France has been left furious after the UK approved just 15 permits out of 47 applications for small French fishing boats to operate in its coastal waters.
This anger intensified further when Jersey, which relies on France for 95 per cent of its electricity supply issued 66 full licenses and 31 temporary permits, but refused 73 applications.
EU boats have been given until the end of this month to provide data to prove their right to fish in the Channel Island’s waters after Brexit.
During a meeting with the European Commission and representatives from the French fishing industry earlier this week, Ms Girardin gave Britain and Jersey until November 1 to approve more licences.
The minister reportedly told European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic and Virginijus Sinkevicius, the commissioner responsible for fisheries, that France is ready to strike back if Britain and Jersey do not grant more licenses to its fishermen, according to The Daily Telegraph.
French President Emmanuel Macron also reportedly told his Government to draw up plans or reprisals against Britain in four areas.
These include cutting energy supplies to the UK and Jersey or scrapping tries between the two countries on defence and security.
A source speaking to the newspaper said Ms Girardin told the EU commissioners she is “preparing, with colleagues from other ministries, response measures that France can implement from Nov 1 if necessary”.
She told reporters after the meeting: “We are two weeks away from this [Jersey] decision.
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“Nothing has been ruled out today, neither by France nor by the European Commission.”
Earlier this month, French fishing industry representatives threatened to block the port of Calais and stop exports to the UK in the run-up to Christmas.
This came after French Europe minister Clement Beaune warned EU member states are preparing to announce measures to apply pressure on the UK to abide by the terms of the Brexit deal.
He raged: “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.”
But the UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost hit back: “We have granted 98 percent of the licence applications from EU boats to fish in our waters according to the different criteria in the Trade and Co-operation Agreement, so we do not accept that we are not abiding by that agreement.
“We have been extremely generous and the French, focusing in on a small category of boats and claiming we have behaved unreasonably, I think is not really a fair reflection of the efforts we have made.”
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