Fishing line in France: PM suggests French may have violated treaty as Paris issues warning | Politics News



Boris Johnson has not ruled out taking legal action against France as the dispute between the two nations over post-Brexit fishing rights continues to escalate.

The Prime Minister suggested to Beth Rigby of Sky News that France could have violated a Brexit treaty and that he would “do whatever is necessary to protect British interests” if British ministers felt that the Kingdom trade deal -Uni-EU had been violated.

Tensions over post-Brexit fishing rights escalated Thursday when France seized a British scallop trawler and threatened to block ports and increase checks on boats and trucks as the UK refused to some boats license to fish in Jersey waters.

Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron meet at the G20 summit in Rome
Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron at the G20 summit in Rome
Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron at the G20 summit in Rome

Relations between the two nations deteriorated further on Friday when the French president Emmanuel Macron told the Financial Times that the UK was risking its “credibility” after reneging on commitments to the EU on fisheries.

Addressing the diplomatic dispute on Saturday ahead of the G20 summit in Rome, Mr Johnson admitted to Sky News he was “worried” that the French might have broken the fishing treaty.

Pressed to know if he could rule out the triggering of the protest mechanism against the French next week, the Prime Minister added: “No, of course not, I am not excluding that.”

A Downing Street spokesperson added: “If France follows through on the threats it has made, we will act in a calibrated manner.

The dispute resolution process would see the start of a consultation period, after which, if no solution is found, an arbitration panel would be formed with compensation required or even the treaty suspended as a sanction, depending on the law. Library of Municipalities.

Meanwhile, a letter seen by Sky News shows French Prime Minister Jean Castex urging the bloc to prove that there is “more damage to leaving the EU than staying there”.

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UK-France fishing line intensifies

In correspondence to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen dated October 28, Mr Castex said: “It is essential to clearly show to European public opinion that honoring commitments is not negotiable. and that it is more damaging to leave the European Union than to stay in it. “

Mr Castex added that the EU must show its “total determination” to force the UK to respect the agreements it has reached on fisheries.

The feud erupted after British authorities refused to grant licenses to 55 French fishing vessels to fish in British waters because they believed they did not meet the requirements.

But the French claim the British are wrong and have threatened to make it harder for British fishermen and truck drivers in France.

Tensions escalated further after a British scallop trawler – named the Cornelis Gert Jan – was detained in Le Havre Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron gives a press conference during the signing ceremony of the frigate purchase agreement
French President Emmanuel Macron met Boris Johnson at the G20 summit and will meet again at the next COP26 climate conference

Andrew Brown, public affairs manager for Macduff Shellfish, owner of the boat, said the charge “relates to fishing in French waters without a license and it is the bone of contention”.

“We think we are fishing with a valid license and the French authorities are not doing it,” he said.

In addition to the detention of the scallop trawler, France also fined two other fishing vessels on the line.

Mr Johnson said: “If another European country wants to break the ATT – the trade and cooperation agreement – then obviously we will have to take action to protect the interests of the UK.”

“We are very keen to work with our friends and partners on all of these issues,” he told Beth Rigby.

Pressed on whether the UK will launch a dispute settlement with France next week after Brexit Minister Lord Frost warned that proceedings could be started, the PM said: “If there is a breach of the Treaty, or if we believe there is a breach of the Treaty of course, we will do what is necessary to protect British interests. “

Fishing boats moored in the port of Boulogne, France.  Environment Secretary George Eustice has warned France that the UK could strike back if it goes ahead with threats in the fishing line, warning that "two can play this game".  Photo date: Friday, October 29, 2021.
Fishing boats moored in the port of Boulogne, France

When asked if he thought there had been a rule violation, Mr Johnson said: ‘I’m afraid there is – and I’m looking at what’s going on right now, and I’m think we need to fix it. “

Mr Johnson said the UK government “wanted to see this treaty respected”, but added that “the much bigger issue” before world leaders today is climate change.

The Prime Minister and President Macron met face to face at the G20 summit in Rome this weekend and will do so again at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “We have worked with the French government to issue more licenses. We are ready to continue this work.

“We have seen a number of comments from the French government at different levels over the past few days and weeks that we do not believe are warranted.”

France said the decision by the UK and Jersey in September to deny fishing licenses to French boats was a violation of the Brexit deal.

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Brexit: “These threats are not acceptable”

French officials have warned they will prevent British boats from landing their catches in some French ports next week unless the dispute is resolved by Tuesday.

Mr Johnson spoke with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the G20 in Rome later on Saturday, a spokesperson for Downing Street said.

“The Prime Minister also expressed his concerns about the rhetoric of the French government in recent days on the issue of fishing licenses,” said the spokesperson.

“The Prime Minister stressed that the French threats are totally unjustified and do not appear compatible with the UK-EU trade and cooperation agreement or with broader international law.

“The Prime Minister reiterated that the UK had granted 98% of EU vessel license applications to fish in UK waters and was happy to consider any further evidence for the remaining 2%.”

Meanwhile, Ms von der Leyen said the EU was “intensively” engaged in finding solutions.

Speaking to Sky News on Friday, Secretary of the Environment George Eustice said the UK has published post-Brexit licenses for 1,700 vessels, including 750 French fishing boats, which represents 98% of applicants.

He said the remaining 55 vessels, although the UK had tried to help them with the data, could not prove that they had ever fished in Jersey waters and therefore could not be licensed under of the trade and cooperation agreement with the EU.

What is the dispute resolution process?

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (ACT) established a new framework for law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal and civil matters after Brexit.

The UK and France are currently accusing each other of violating the agreement, which was reached last Christmas Eve, on licenses to fish in British waters following the country’s exit from the Union. European.

The ATT offers both the UK and an EU member to initiate a dispute settlement process against another signatory if they are not satisfied.

They can request arbitration, consultation and a court ruling.

The Prime Minister warned on Saturday that France could violate the ATT over its threat to block British fishing boats in ports and to carry out tighter controls in the English Channel.

The triggering of the dispute settlement clause in the ATT allows the UK to respond to these threats with proportionate sanctions against the French – which could affect boats that do not have a license allowing them to be licensed to operate in UK waters.

If launched, a consultation period would be initiated, after which, if no solution was found, an arbitration panel would be formed with compensation demanded or even the treaty suspended as a sanction.

Mr Eustice said: “We don’t know what we’re going to do, they said they won’t introduce these measures until Tuesday at the earliest, we’ll see what they do.

“But if they put those measures in place, well, two can play this game and we obviously reserve the ability to respond in a proportionate way.”

The French ambassador to the United Kingdom was summoned to Downing Street on Thursday for this question.


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