British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says London will make no concession in a dispute with France over fishing rights, against the backdrop of a move by Paris to put on hold plans for retaliatory measures.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Johnson said his government’s position on the row remains unchanged.
Tensions over fishing rights escalated on October 28, when France seized a British trawler fishing in its territorial waters, saying it did not have the proper documentation.
Asked whether London had shifted stance in the face of the threats, Johnson said on Tuesday, “The answer is no.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, however, ruled out the application of French reprisals for the time being because “it's not while we're negotiating that we're going to impose sanctions.” Macron said he had “confidence in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take seriously” the French proposals and for the discussions to lead to a “result.”
Clement Beaune, the French secretary of state for European affairs, on the other hand, said the last-minute delay to sanctions was prompted by indications from the UK that it was ready to accelerate the process of finding a settlement to the dispute over licenses for French boats to fish off the Channel Islands.
Johnson also warned last week that he could trigger resolution measures in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which was formed late last year over licenses to fish in British waters following the country’s exit from the European Union. Both Britain and France are currently accusing each other of breaching the agreement. The TCA offers both the UK and a member of the EU to begin a dispute settlement process against another signatory if they are unsatisfied. They can request arbitration, a consultation, and a tribunal ruling.
Fishing, which dogged Brexit talks for years, still remains a key issue between Britain and the European Union. If not resolved, it could trigger the beginning of dispute measures in the Brexit trade deal.