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French fury as UK announces 6-12 licences

Solely 12 of 47 functions granted for under-12s

French officers and politicians have reacted furiously to the UK publication of an inventory of EU under-12m vessels that might be licensed to fish within the UK six to 12-mile zone, experiences Tim Oliver.

Solely 12 licences have been issued out of 47 functions made. Offended French politicians and fishermen’s leaders have threatened reprisals and powerful retaliatory motion in opposition to the UK.

French EU affairs minister Clement Beaune (pictured above) instructed French TV: “We perceive and we share the exasperation of our fishermen as a result of it’s merely unacceptable to not respect an settlement that has been signed. We’ll negotiate till the final second to resume a few of these permits and acquire some extra.

“And sure, we now have been saying at each degree, together with the president [Emmanuel Macron] to prime minister Johnson, that we can not co-operate in confidence on different issues till they abide by the Brexit deal they signed.

“I hope we don’t find yourself in that place, however after all we now have mentioned that there are retaliatory measures that are attainable in keeping with the Brexit settlement.

“For instance, business measures on sure British merchandise, or on vitality issues. Now we have a number of areas wherein the British rely extra on us. And on this overarching settlement, if they don’t respect the half on fishing, we are able to take measures [against them] collectively because the European Union, and we won’t hesitate to take action.”

France’s readiness to make use of non-fisheries points to defend its fishermen was confirmed by Jean Castex, the French prime minister, in a letter to EU president Ursula von der Leyen, urging her to think about using different financial levers to push the UK right into a compromise on fisheries, in keeping with the Monetary Instances.

He warned of French fishermen’s mounting weariness and frustration, and mentioned the UK didn’t look like respecting the spirit or the letter of the TCA settlement or ‘the aims for which it was signed’.

In the meantime, fishermen in northwest France threatened to stop British exports coming into France.

Olivier Le Nezet, president of the Brittany fishermen’s committee, mentioned the granting of solely 12 under-12m licences out of 47 functions was ‘a declaration of battle on the water and on the land’. French fishermen would be sure that ‘not a single British product lands on French soil’. “There might be actions that can transcend what you possibly can think about, and I’m not simply speaking about chopping off electrical energy to Jersey,” Olivier Le Nezet instructed the Telegraph. “We’ll lead this battle in opposition to the UK.”

Bertrand Sorre, MP for the Manche division, throughout the water from Jersey, mentioned the choice to award solely 12 licences was ‘an excessive provocation on the a part of British officers, and really clearly France received’t settle for it, and I would like the EU to enter right into a a lot firmer negotiation and use all of the levers at its disposal’.

Michel Barnier, the previous EU Brexit negotiator, who’s operating for the French presidency in subsequent yr’s elections, mentioned French fishing ‘should not be held hostage’, and that the choice might have vital repercussions for UK-French relations.

“There are too many factors of disappointment from our aspect, and I believe it may very well be tough,” he mentioned.

Annick Girardin, the French maritime minister, mentioned the licences resolution was ‘a brand new British refusal to use the situations of the Brexit accord’, including: “French fishing should not be held hostage by the British for political ends.” She threatened earlier this yr to chop off electrical energy provides to Jersey when the licensing row escalated in Jersey waters.

With French elections due subsequent yr, fishing is a massively necessary situation in northern France, and is prone to result in President Macron taking a tough line.

DEFRA: ‘Cheap method in keeping with TCA’

DEFRA mentioned that nearly 1,700 EU vessels have now been licensed to fish in UK waters. Of those, 117 licences have been issued for EU vessels to fish within the 6-12nm zone, ‘the place proof was obtainable to help a observe file over the five-year reference interval’.

A UK authorities spokesperson mentioned the federal government has issued ‘numerous licences’ to EU vessels in search of to fish within the UK EEZ (12-200nm zone) and territorial sea (6-12nm zone).

They mentioned: “There have been 47 smaller vessels, beneath 12m, the place information was much less obtainable and the place additional supporting proof was requested to help their utility to fish within the 6-12nm zone.

“Having assessed all obtainable proof, we now have now licensed an extra 12 under-12m vessels to fish within the six-12nm zone of our territorial sea. The method we now have taken is affordable and absolutely in keeping with the Commerce and Co-operation Settlement (TCA), which requires the UK to grant entry to vessels which fished within the related elements of the six-12nm zone in 4 out of 5 years between 2012 and 2016.”

Licences haven’t been issued to 35 smaller vessels which didn’t have supporting proof, however the UK says it stays ‘open to additional dialogue and proof’ on these vessels.

“We proceed to work with the Fee and the French authorities, and can take into account any additional proof offered to help the remaining licence functions,” mentioned the spokesperson.

One UK authorities official mentioned the UK had ‘bent over backwards to be as beneficiant as we may very well be’.

This story was taken from the newest situation of Fishing Information. For extra up-to-date and in-depth experiences on the UK and Irish business fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing Information here or purchase the newest single situation for simply £3.30 here. (Major picture taken from

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