Brexit: EU making Jersey fishing deals difficult says Thompson
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French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said Emmanuel Macron’s government was ready to retaliate against the UK’s latest Brexit move to deny fishing permits to small French boats. He told RTL: “We understand the frustration of our fishermen and we share it because it is unbearable not to honour an agreement that has been signed. We will negotiate until the very last minute to solve this.
“We have said it at all levels in the UK that we cannot cooperate freely, on other matters as well, while they do not respect the signed Brexit deal.
“We hope not to get to that point, but there are retaliatory measures that are possible under the Brexit deal.
“In trade, to British products, for example.
“In the energy field as well, there are many subjects on which the British need us, and there is an overall agreement.
“If they don’t respect the part on fishing, we can and will take action, collectively in the EU.”
France accused Britain of playing politics with post-Brexit fishing rights on Wednesday after London granted licenses to fish in its territorial waters to only 12 small French boats out of 47 applications.
Britain said it was open to further discussion with the boats it had rejected, adding that they had not submitted evidence of their history of operating in the waters which was needed to continue fishing in the 6-12 nautical mile (nm) zone.
“Our approach has been reasonable and fully in line with our commitments in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA),” a UK government spokesperson said, referring to the free trade agreement between Britain and the European Union.
“As regards the 6-12nm zone, as set out in the TCA, EU vessels must provide evidence of a track record of fishing activity in those waters.”
France’s maritime minister Annick Girardin said Britain was not complying with the Brexit agreement.
“It’s a new refusal by the British to implement the conditions of the Brexit agreement despite all the work we have done together,” she said in a statement quoted by the Guardian newspaper.
“French fishing should not be taken hostage by the British for political ends.”
Britain said it had granted licences to almost 1,700 vessels to fish in the 12-200 nautical mile zone, and a further 105 licences were issued for vessels to fish in the 6-12 nautical mile zone where evidence supported a track record.
Britain and France both deployed maritime patrol vessels to the waters off Jersey earlier this year after a flotilla of French trawlers sailed in protest to the Channel island, arguing they were being unfairly excluded from the rich fishing grounds.
In the case of fishing waters in Jersey and Guernsey, many provisional licenses will expire on September 30.
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In a gesture of appeasement the government of Jersey, a stone’s throw from the Normandy coast, announced on Friday that it would grant authorisations to European Union boats and renew provisional licenses which expire in 48 hours, until January 31, 2022, for those who are struggling to collect the required supporting documents.
A new delay badly perceived by the French fishermen, ready to do battle in the event of too timid advances.
Guernsey renews the provisional licenses from month to month. In total, Paris is still awaiting responses to 169 requests for final authorisations in Jersey, and 168 in Guernsey.
The president of the Brittany regional fisheries committee Olivier Le Nezet said he is determined to punch “if necessary, since there is only that the English understand”.
He added: “In this game, it will end badly.”
He claimed he was tired of the idea “of going to the siege of Jersey every four-five months”.
French fishermen plead for immediate retaliatory measures: prohibiting English boats from disembarking, reducing economic or academic cooperation with the Channel Islands.
Paris says it is “studying” the subject, with Brussels as arbiter.
Fishing and the control of UK waters was a hot topic during Britain’s 2016 referendum to leave the EU.
But British fishermen have since accused the government of selling them out by allowing international boats to continue fishing in UK waters.
This is the latest flashpoint in the long-running Brexit rows over fishing rights.
In May, Royal Navy patrol vessels were dispatched to Jersey in response to protests by French fishermen.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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