France offers a reprieve in the fight against post-Brexit fishing with the United Kingdom | Nation and world
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) – The French President on Monday offered Britain an extra day of negotiations to try to find a compromise on a troubling post-Brexit fishing problem, hours before the threat of a French blockade of British ships and trucks.
France has threatened to deny British ships access to some of its ports and to tighten controls on boats and trucks carrying British goods if more French vessels are not allowed to fish in British waters. ‘here Tuesday. Paris also suggested that it could restrict energy supplies to the Channel Islands, which are heavily dependent on French electricity.
The French government had said the port blockade would begin at midnight on Monday if no compromise was found. But at the end of the day, French President Emmanuel Macron said the talks would continue throughout Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters in Glasgow, Scotland, where he is attending an international climate conference, Macron said discussions centered on a proposal he made to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson after they met at the the G-20 meeting in Rome on Sunday.
“I have asked the British to come back to us tomorrow with other proposals,” Macron said. “We’ll see where we are at the end of the day tomorrow. “
The British government has said throughout the long-running conflict that it is not engaged in negotiations and that it is entirely up to France to end the conflict, which is over fishing licenses in the English Channel. The feud became a big sticking point in EU-Britain relations after the UK left the bloc earlier this year.
The British government has welcomed France’s decision to delay its ultimatum.
“As we have said regularly, we stand ready to continue intensive discussions on the fishery, including the examination of any new evidence in support of the remaining license applications,” the UK government said in a statement. “We welcome France’s recognition of the need for in-depth discussions to resolve the range of difficulties in UK-EU relations.
The two countries said Britain’s Brexit Minister David Frost and France’s European Minister Clément Beaune will meet in Paris on Thursday.
Earlier Monday, the European Commission announced that it had called a meeting involving officials from the UK, France and the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, which are autonomous dependencies of the British Crown controlling their own territorial waters, “to allow a swift solution to the outstanding issues ”in the dispute over the access of French fishing vessels to British waters.
The fishing spat turned into a major dispute between the UK and France, with the two sides accusing each other of violating the Brexit trade deal the UK signed when it left the EU.
Paris says authorities in the Channel Islands and Britain have denied permits to French boats that fished in waters they have long sailed, collecting lobster, sea snails, sea bream and other fish of the Channel. Britain said it had granted 98% of requests from EU vessels, a proportion that French authorities have questioned.
Britain says a few dozen boats have not received permits because they failed to present the required documents to justify their claims.
“We are absolutely ready to grant more licenses if the required proof is provided,” said spokesman for the British Prime Minister, Max Blain.
As Monday’s talks unfolded, concerned French fishing crews landed scallops on the French coast near the British island of Jersey, strained by what the coming hours would bring.
Jersey, which is only 14 miles from the French coast, has issued 49 temporary permits to French boats. The Jersey government has said vessels will be able to fish in Jersey waters until January 31 to “allow time” to obtain additional data needed for permanent licensing.
Fishing is a small industry economically, but one which occupies a symbolically important place for Great Britain and France, which have long and dear maritime traditions. Since the start of the year, both sides have controlled their waters, subject to the post-Brexit trade deal.
Dimitri Rogoff, who heads the regional fisheries committee on the French coast near Jersey, said French crews had been providing documents for 10 months. He said he did not understand why Britain was making a big deal on “20 or 30 boats”, and that he hoped that threats from the French government might “make our British friends to be a little more conciliatory” .
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has warned France that the UK “will not turn around” in the face of what she called “unreasonable” threats from Paris.
“The French must withdraw these threats, otherwise we will use the dispute settlement mechanism of the EU deal to take action,” Truss told BBC radio. “We are just not going to turn around in the face of these threats.”
Macron noted that the dispute stemmed from Britain’s decision to leave the EU, saying “‘Get Brexit Done’ was not my motto.”
While Macron said it was important to defend the French fishing industry, he expressed hope for a negotiated solution so that countries can work together on other issues.
“The UK and the European Union have so many challenges – climate change, technological change, the cohesion of our nations, geopolitics,” Macron said.
Pylas reported from London. Angela Charlton in Paris and Jill Lawless in Glasgow contributed.