the United Kingdom refuses the “deadline” of December 10, supposed to settle the dispute with France

Eleven months after the post-Brexit signature, and after numerous incidents and threats on both sides of the Channel, the Franco-British dispute over the licenses granted to French fishermen does not seem to be heading towards a resolution, despite the involvement of the authorities. European.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said Thursday, December 9, that his country did not recognize the ” deadline ” of December 10, set by the European Commission to obtain a way out of the crisis. ” They’ve fixed one, but it’s not the one we’re working on. There is an ongoing technical process, based on evidence rather than deadlines ”, he clarified.

A few minutes after these statements, Emmanuel Macron, who outlined the program of the future French presidency of the Council of the European Union, spoke of “Difficult relationships” between the two countries, which “Are difficult because the current government, so far, does not do what it says”. This is particularly the case in the licensing file. “He signed a withdrawal agreement, which requires fishing to keep commitments vis-à-vis our professional fishermen”, he maintained.

Annick Girardin, French Minister for the Sea, warned that if all the fishing licenses still requested were not granted by Friday evening, France would ask for arbitration at European level “To note the non-respect of its signature by the United Kingdom” and would go “To litigation”. After several weeks of tension, she now considers that France and the Commission are “Totally on the same line” in this file.

Read the report: Article reserved for our subscribers “Jersey is in the middle of a battle that is beyond it”: the Channel Island in the uncertainty of tensions over fishing licenses

104 licenses in play and the possibility of “sanctions” that emerges

Under the agreement validated eleven months ago between London and Brussels, European fishermen can continue to work in UK waters provided they can prove that they previously fished there. But the French and the British argue over the nature and extent of the supporting documents to be provided.

The United Kingdom refuses in particular the establishment of a clear methodology for granting licenses. The British introduced new conditions, absent from the trade and cooperation agreement. For example, they require proof through geolocation. But the evidence requested is difficult to provide for most small vessels.

After months of negotiations, the dispute now concerns 104 licenses, according to the French government. A total of 1,004 have been granted by the British, but 53 are still missing in the British 6-12 mile zone and 51 which are under the control of the authorities on the island of Jersey. “It’s not anecdotal, defended Annick Girardin, it is capital: they are fishermen, families. A job at sea means four jobs on land. “

If there was never a confrontation, the actions and the exasperation, especially on the French side, quickly made their appearance: first a blockade of Jersey by French fishermen in May, with the dispatch of two patrol boats British in response; an inflation of French threats of sanctions in October; and more recently the blocking by French fishermen of the Channel Tunnel’s ports and freight terminal. Now, according to Mme Girardin, we could enter the field ” Sanctions “ : “It is the Commission which will carry the litigation and the retaliatory measures, if they were to be implemented. “

Read the analysis: Article reserved for our subscribers Between Paris and London, a relationship at its lowest

The World with AFP