The actions of the United Kingdom with regard to material fishing annoy France, but not only. On Monday, eleven countries including France signed a joint declaration criticizing the number of licenses granted to fishermen by the British since leaving the European Union.
“The response given by the United Kingdom to requests for a fishing license is incomplete and inappropriate”, regretted the French Ministry of the Sea in a press release, following a Council of European Ministers of Agriculture and Fishing in Luxembourg.
In addition to France, Germany, Belgium, Cyprus, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden have signed this declaration, according to this press release.
A ton of supporting documents
The post-Brexit agreement, reached in extremis at the end of last year between London and Brussels, provides that European fishermen can continue to work in certain British waters on condition that they obtain a license, granted if they can prove that they fished there before.
But the French and the British argue over the nature and extent of the supporting documents to be provided. In the still disputed fishing zones (6-12 miles from the British coasts and the Channel Islands), London and Jersey have thus granted a total of just over 200 definitive licenses, while Paris is still claiming 244.
“This joint declaration marks an important step because only a collective response will allow the European Union to contemplate serenely the continuation of the negotiations with our British partner”, underlined Annick Girardin, Minister of the Sea, in the press release.
Annick Girardin also argues that “the European and French responses to the British proposals” will be made public “during the second half of October” and “will possibly include retaliatory measures”.
Threats, and tensions that accumulate
Friday, France threatened to reduce its exports of electricity across the Channel: “Reducing deliveries is possible, cut the power to every inhabitant of Jersey this winter, it will not happen”, assured the secretary of French State in European Affairs Clément Beaune. The Brexit agreement notably provides for an energy export agreement “So we can regulate flows”, he agitated.
Fishing licenses, illegal migrant crossings in the North Sea and in the English Channel, the French submarine affair… The tensions are building up between the United Kingdom and France. “Johnson is fully playing the card of national sovereignty. He wants to show that the United Kingdom can have a new role outside of Europe and for that, it pulls out its muscles against its closest neighbor ”, summarizes Clémence Fourton, specialist in contemporary British civilization and author of The United Kingdom, a country in crisis?