‘A Common Front’: 10 EU Members Join France to Condemn UK Over Post-Brexit Fishing Licences
14:40 GMT 12.10.2021 (Updated: 15:24 GMT 28.05.2023)
The UK and France are locking horns over London's refusal to let 75 French trawlers fish near the island of Jersey in the English Channel. Paris insists that Britain barring French fishermen from the area breaches the sides’ Brexit agreements.
10 EU member states have joined France to call for “a common front” against London over its handling of a spat with Paris pertaining to the UK’s post-Brexit fishing licence requirements.
In a statement on Monday, Paris’ allies, including Germany, Spain, Italy, and Belgium, condemned the British actions as "incomplete and inappropriate".
The statement claimed that Britain’s demand for geolocation data from small fishing boats to prove their traditional grounds “is not provided for in the [Brexit] deal, and is not required by European regulations”.
“We therefore call on the United Kingdom to promptly respond and undertake further technical work work in accordance with […] the agreement”, the document pointed out.
French Fisheries Minister Annick Girardin described the statement as something that was designed “to push the UK to respect the Brexit deal”.
“This joint declaration marks an important step because only a collective response will allow the European Union to contemplate serenely the continuation of the negotiations with our British partner”, she added.
The remarks came after a raft of countries, including Germany, Spain, and Italy, lashed out at Paris over its statement last week to slam the UK’s “unsatisfactory behavior” and its “clear failure to comply with provisions” of the Brexit trade deal.
7 May 2021, 10:46 GMT
Also last week, France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune threatened the UK with “pressure” to the point of severing energy supplies if Britain fails to fully adhere to the terms of the Brexit deal.
Brexit Minister David Frost, for his part, asserted that it was “unreasonable” to accuse the UK of not acting in good faith when allocating post-Brexit fishing licences to French boats.
“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. We have granted 98% 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”, he noted.
This was preceded by French officials warning of potential "retaliatory action" against Britain after UK authorities rejected dozens of license applications from French trawlers seeking to fish in waters off Jersey, a British Crown dependency situated some 22 km off the French coast.
Jersey authorities announced that they had denied fishing licenses to 75 French vessels, granting them to 64 boats along with 31 provisional licenses which will be valid until January and were issued pending the provision of additional information. All unlicensed boats will be required to stop fishing in the area within 30 days.