Macron’s fishing threats would harm ‘everybody’ says expert
The ongoing tension between London and Paris has seen the French react with open and frank threats against the United Kingdom. French President Emmanuel Macron has considered imposing sanctions, raising tariffs, blocking ports and increasing checks at borders against British interests in the ongoing fishing wars. Yet with further licences being issued, the EU has reacted with cautious optimism.
Taking to Twitter, Virginjus Sinkevicius, the EU Minister for Fisheries, said: “The recent announcement of nine additional permanent licences for Jersey waters is good but more can and should be achieved so we can conclude the current process by December 10.”
He added: “Our teams continue full steam ahead and we speak again,” referring to a conversation he had with Jersey’s External Relations Minister, Ian Gorst and Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, Victoria Prentis.
Thanking the EU Commissioner, France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune said: “Fisheries: Increased mobilisation, new results with 10 additional licences, a fight that continues.”
French Sea Minister Annick Girardin also celebrated the victory: “Thank you @VSinkevicius for these renewed efforts, vital for our French and European fishermen. We continue…”
France celebrates the issue of more fishing licences in British waters
EU Fishing Commissioner Tweets the news
However, the tension is set to increase in the new year, causing the EU to strongly oppose British plans to tighten the rules on fishing in its waters.
The latest illustration of the worsening crisis is that the British authorities have just announced new regulations on the size of fishing nets.
This apparently technical measure will apply from January 1, 2022, to French vessels with fishing licences giving them access to British waters.
This will mean even more stringent controls, to the detriment of French fishermen.
France Europe Minister Clement Beaune was overjoyed at the new licences
The licences have been issued to fish in Jersey waters
In the wake of the British announcement of new technical measures restricting catches in their waters, Jean François Rapin, chairman of the Senate’s European Affairs Committee, deplored the multiplication of hostile initiatives by the UK, making an exit scenario for the fisheries crisis less simple than once thought.
Consequently, he called on the French government to abandon its naivety, to prevent French fishermen from being caught in a trap.
The French Senate Chairman said: “By acting in this way, the United Kingdom clearly intends to multiply the precedents to circumvent the Trade and Partnership Agreement, concluded on 24 December 2020 with the EU.”
In this increasingly deteriorated context, French Senators expect a strong mobilisation of the European Commission, combined with a reaction from the French Government that is equal to the survival of the French fishing industry.
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French fishermen have threatened to block French port access to Brits
These expectations will be presented to Annick Girardin, Minister for the Sea, during her next hearing by the European Affairs and Economic Affairs Committees of the Senate, on Thursday 9 December at 10.30 am.
Mr Rapin believes the French should stop threatening the UK with punitive measures, and concentrate on the notion of resolving the issues with Britain, whilst protecting the rights of French fishermen.
In a potential resolution in the ongoing dispute, British sources say an agreement could be reached on “replacement boats”, which would allow issuing of more permits to EU vessels.
Adding to the notion that tension must be de-escalated, Boris Johnson has ordered his team to de-escalate tensions with French President Macron, telling colleagues not to retaliate against what London regards as recent provocation from Paris.
France has threatened to step up checks on British freight
Mr Johnson is convinced that Mr Macron is going to win a second term, according to allies, and wants to prepare the ground for better relations after next April’s presidential elections, possibly via a new Anglo-French treaty.
With the French President reportedly labelling Mr Johnson a “clown” amid a bitter row over how to respond to the deaths of 27 migrants who last month tried to reach the UK by crossing the English Channel in a small boat, the idea of any post-election “entente cordiale” seems far-fetched to some diplomats.
However, some diplomats believe Mr Johnson has left it too late to smooth tensions and is deluded in thinking that Mr Macron’s attacks are down to electioneering, they think the French president is simply fed up with a prime minister whom he regards as unreliable and trivial.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega