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France-UK fishing row ongoing as trade battles loom

Ramin Mazaheri
Press TV, Paris

France says all their options to sanction the UK remain on the table following inconclusive talks in Paris. A low-level fishing license dispute has shown just how thorny many issues are following Brexit, with many saying that it’s just the start of long-running political and economic conflict.

Last-minute high-level talks in Paris to avert French sanctions on the United Kingdom did not produce any breakthrough, but both sides have agreed to continue discussions.

A dispute over fishing boat licensing surprisingly ballooned into swift threats of sanctions and bans on using French ports unless London backed down.

The row only concerns about 200 French fishing boats, some of which may be unable or unwilling to prove that they have not been fishing illegally in UK waters. The extremely low economic impact of the dispute has many saying the affair has become overly-politicized, with French president Emmanuel Macron posturing ahead of re-election next spring and the UK with their own questionable motives.

But the dispute does reveal the complex and long-lasting nature of the Brexit secession. Analysts say that as the UK’s largest trading partner the European Union holds the best cards: tougher customs checks, which have not been implemented since Brexit, could cause major delays for British companies and costs which far outweigh sales of fish.

France’s prime minster shocked many by recently asking the head of the European Commission to show, “that it is more damaging to leave the union than to remain in it.” That openly punitive stance has many saying that it’s an unabashed method to keep members in the EU via intimidation and not persuasion.

Many expect Brexit to become a perpetual problem in UK-EU relations, and with France sometimes an ally, sometimes a competitor but always a neighbor bilateral relations are likely to get more strained as Brexit solidifies into permanence.

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