France prepares sanctions as fishing dispute with UK deepens

By Amanda Morrow with RFI
Europe © AP Photo/David Keyton
OCT 21, 2021 LISTEN
© AP Photo/David Keyton

France has threatened to present sanctions against Britain by the "end of the week" if a post-Brexit fisheries agreement is not respected.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the punitive measures would come into force sometime in November if more French fishermen were not granted licences before the end of October.

The thorny subject of fishing rights has resurfaced recently as an increasing number of EU boats are denied the right to fish in British territorial waters.  

Because European fishing activity in those waters (worth €635 million a year) is eight times larger than the British equivalent in European waters (worth €110 million a year), fishing was a major bargaining chip for the UK during Brexit trade talks.

Targeted measures
“We are obviously in a position to take sanctions if the agreement is not respected,” Attal said. 

“There are several types of sanctions that are possible: energy prices and trade, access to French ports and customs issues.”

The sanctions would be aimed at both the UK and the British island of Jersey, which has its own powers with regards to who may fish in its territorial waters.

In the past, the British government said that EU vessels needed to provide evidence of a track record of fishing activity in UK waters before licences could be granted.

Collective EU stance
France has asked the 27-nation EU collective to act as one in the dispute by preparing its own retaliation measures. 

Earlier this month 11 EU nations signed a common declaration against Britain over the way it has handled the fishing licences.

They were Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden and France.

A senior French official declined to say whether French President Emmanuel Macron would discuss the issue with his counterparts at an EU summit on Thursday and Friday, AP reported.

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