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France sets ultimatum, prepares sanctions for UK in fishing rights dispute

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Gabriel Attal, the French government’s spokesman (file photo by AFP)

France has threatened to retaliate in the wake of Britain’s refusal to offer more permits for French fishermen working in British inshore waters.

The French government is likely to announce sanctions against London if a post-Brexit fisheries agreement is not respected.

The government spokesman Gabriel Attal told a press conference after the weekly meeting of ministers on Wednesday that a full list of retaliatory measures would be released as early as Thursday. “There are several types of sanctions possible, including tariffs on energy, on the access to ports, on customs, and other measures are possible.”

Attal said the punitive measures would come into force soon if the number of French fishermen not granted licenses went up before the end of October. “Only about half of the licenses that our fishermen are entitled to have been issued. Our patience is running out,” Attal said. “We will not let the UK wipe its feet with the Brexit agreement.”

French officials say the sanctions would be aimed at the UK and the Channel Island of Jersey alike. The latter has its own powers with regards to who may fish in its territorial waters.

Attal said measures could include stricter customs controls and health checks on trucks and boats coming into ports in northern France, as well as a ban on unloading seafood in French ports.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Attal said France could cut off electricity supplies to Jersey.

Last month, Paris protested the decision by the UK and Jersey to deny licenses to dozens of French fishing boats to operate in their territorial waters. France considers the restrictions as contrary to the post-Brexit agreement that the British government signed when it left the European Union (EU).

Tensions over the post-Brexit fishing situation have caused both France and Britain to dispatch maritime vessels off the shores of Jersey.

The thorny subject of fishing rights has resurfaced recently as an increasing number of EU boats are denied the right to fish in British territorial waters. 

 


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