Conflict over fishing between France and the United Kingdom: the post-Brexit tug of war explained in 6 acts

the essential At the end of the Council of Ministers this Wednesday 12 October, the – French government speech, Gabriel Attal, announced the launch of retaliatory measures against the British government in the context of the fishing license dispute. La Dépêche du Midi explains the reasons for this showdown of the seas.

The British government judged this Wednesday 27 October “disappointing” and “disproportionate” the retaliatory measures taken against it by France in the context of the conflict between them over the number of licenses granted to French fishermen in the Channel Islands. La Dépêche du Midi looks back for you on the six stages of this conflict born of Brexit.

Act 1: an agreement negotiated in pain

The post-Brexit deal brokered by the European Union and the United Kingdom provided that European fishermen could continue to visit certain British waters provided they obtained a license, granted if they can prove that they were fishing there. previously. This is where the negotiations stumble. Because London and the semi-autonomous Channel Islands Jersey and Guernsey have not granted all the licenses requested for French boats, far from it, which causes many tensions.

Act 2: disagreement on the first licenses

On 27 last September, the British government announced that it was granting 12 new licenses, on 47 requested, for access to a zone between 6 and 12 nautical miles from the British coast. Paris, for its part, claims to have made 87 requests. In total, including the permits previously issued by London, 100 licenses on 175 have been granted, according to the ministry from the French Sea.

The Channel Island of Jersey, a Channel Island very close to the French coast, announced on 27 September l ‘granting of 50 definitive licenses to French boats, against 169 requested by Paris, and the rejection of 75 files.

Act 3: Paris is “exasperated”

A number of authorizations which did not satisfy France. “Our patience has a clear limit, that of exasperation and that of our fishermen,” insists Clément Beaune, France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs, on October 8. “We have been discussing calmly, kindly for nine months. Enough!” Paris threatens to “reduce” its deliveries of electricity to Jersey.

“This would amount to cutting off the energy supply to 108 islanders, to our hospital and our schools “, underlined the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jersey Ian Gorst, estimating that this would not happen and assuring that the island had a plan of relief in the event that this threat is put in execution.

“We cannot provide licenses if we do not have the information and the evidence” showing that these boats “comply with the terms of the trade agreement”, insisted Ian Gorst, recalling that Jersey had accepted “the log data. board “from French fishermen for small boats that cannot provide GPS data. Arguments swept aside by France, which considers that British practices are mainly “bad will”.

Act 4: France in search of a European front

France is seeking to create a “European front” against the United Kingdom, without for the moment eliciting an official reaction from other EU member states. The European Commission, for its part, said it regretted the “limited” number of licenses granted, considering that it had “provided all the available and relevant evidence demonstrating the historical activity” of the current French licenses and inviting London to “share its methodology”.

Act 5: first retaliatory measures

This Wednesday 12 November, France announced the entry into force next Tuesday of a first round of retaliatory measures against London and the Channel Islands if the number of licenses granted to French fishermen remained insufficient.

If no progress is made by the beginning of November, Paris has decided to “ban the landing of British seafood” in France, “with checks on trucks”, and to put in place ” systematic customs and health checks on (British) products landed “.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal also spoke of a gradual response, with a possible “second series of measures”, “including energy measures relating to the supply of electricity for the Channel Islands”. “It is almost 47% of the licenses to which we are entitled. It is a situation which is not acceptable”, insisted Gabriel Attal .

Act 6: London is blazing

“France’s threats are disappointing and disproportionate, and do not correspond to what one would expect from a close ally and partner,” said a government spokesperson.

Reacting to French threats, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman replied that there had been “no formal contact” with the French government on this point. “It is important to point out that 87% of fishing licenses have been granted. We continue to work with the French government to grant more based on the evidence that it provides “, he added, citing a figure which differs greatly from that brandished by the French.

For its part, London believes that most of the licenses that can be granted have been granted, and has rejected certain French requests – such as the files concerning changes in shipowners – which would explain the differences in figures brandished by the two parties. .

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