France Sets 10 December Deadline for End of Fishing License Talks With UK
12:10 GMT 29.11.2021 (Updated: 15:24 GMT 28.05.2023)
The UK and France are at loggerheads over the issue of fishing licenses following Britain's exit from the EU. Paris argues that London issued 50% fewer licenses than it was supposed to under the post-Brexit trade agreement.
France's European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune has expressed hope that talks between Paris and London over post-Brexit fishing licenses will wrap up next week.
"If there is no big gesture between now and 10 December, we will end our dialogue", Beaune told France Inter radio on Monday.
He spoke a few days after French fishermen staged blockades at the port of Calais and Channel Tunnel rail link to disrupt trade in a show of protest.
3 November 2021, 08:41 GMT
Gerard Romiti, the chairman of France's National Fisheries Committee, described the blockades as a "demonstration of the quality and ability of professional fishermen to mobilise in response to the UK's provocative, contemptuous, and humiliating attitude towards them".
"The patience of professionals has limits. We hope this warning shot will be heard", he said.
This followed French President Emmanuel Macron emphasising in early November that talks between Paris and London "need to continue" despite France having previously threatened to slap sanctions on the UK over London's reluctance to issue enough fishing licenses for French fishermen to access British waters under the Brexit trade deal.
A UK government spokesperson said at the time that Downing Street welcomed Macron's "acknowledgement that in-depth discussions are needed to resolve the range of difficulties in the UK/EU relationship".
The statement was preceded by an escalation of the French-British fishing row in late October, when Paris seized the British trawler "Cornelis Gert Jan", claiming that it was not properly licensed to operate in French territorial waters. The UK condemned the seizure as "disappointing", insisting that the vessel had the necessary license. The "Cornelis Gert Jan" finally received permission to leave the northern French port of Le Havre, where it had been kept for about a week.
4 November 2021, 17:50 GMT
In September, the UK Ministry of the Environment said that 1,700 vessels from the European Union received licenses to fish in British waters, including only 12 of 47 French boats that had applied for a license.
According to the Brexit trade deal, EU fishermen are entitled to fish in the UK's waters, so London's refusal to grant licenses to all of the French fishing boats that submitted applications sparked discontent in Paris. British officials called the decision "reasonable" and well within the country's obligations under the Brexit deal.