If France does not withdraw its threats to British fishermen, truck drivers and exporters within 48 hours, the government in London will respond. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said. Thus, the struggle over fishing rights in the canal is reaching its climax, despite direct talks between French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson last weekend.
The conflict had been dormant for some time, but it erupted in full force last week. France accuses British authorities of granting too few licenses to French fishermen, thus violating the post-Brexit trade agreement between the European Union and Britain. The British object that they give licenses, but only to boats that can prove they are also fishing in British waters before Brexit. According to France, four out of ten of its fishermen’s applications were rejected.
The French gendarmerie detained a British fishing vessel in the port of Le Havre, Wednesday, for not having the necessary documents, which was denied by its owner. France also announced stricter controls. In addition, Paris gave London until tomorrow / Tuesday to grant the French fishermen the required licenses, otherwise it will prevent British fishing boats from reaching six French ports, it will also tighten inspections on British trucks and tighten customs controls. France had previously said it would provide less electricity to the Channel Island of Jersey.
“The French have made absolutely unreasonable threats, including threats against the Channel Islands and our fishermen,” Foreign Minister Truss told Sky News on Monday. “They have to withdraw it, otherwise we will use the mechanisms set out in our trade agreement with the EU to take action.” Specifically, the British will seek “compensatory measures”. “This issue must be resolved within 48 hours,” Minister Truss said emphatically. It confirms that the granting of fishing licenses is in accordance with the agreements of the trade agreement.
On Sunday, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome, President Macron and Prime Minister Johnson discussed the issue for half an hour, but to no avail. What’s more: The Elysee and 10 Downing Street then gave contradictory statements about the outcome of the meeting. “The ball is in Britain’s court,” Macron said, announcing the response if London did not accept the proposed “de-escalation” by Tuesday. “France must decide whether to abandon the very troubling threats,” Johnson’s spokesman said. That deadline was set by Secretary of State Truss on Wednesday.
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