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France to take legal action against UK on post-Brexit fishing licenses in January 2022

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)
In this file photograph, taken on May 6, 2021, French fishermen are seen gathering their catch in a net on the deck of a vessel near the port of Saint Helier, off the British island of Jersey. (By AFP)

France plans to take legal action against Britain on the issue of post-Brexit fishing licences early next year, France’s junior minister for European Union affairs says.

Minister Clement Beaune told France 2 television on Thursday that a high-profile meeting with EU representatives would take place on January 4 about the stand-off with the UK on fishing rights and a suit would later be filed with a special tribunal in “the very first days of January.”

Beaune said if the court rules that the UK hasn’t respected the post-Brexit accord, that could lead to retaliatory measures such as customs tariffs.

“If the British don’t respect the accord, in future they will no longer have free access to our market,” Beaune said.

Last week, Paris threatened the UK with EU legal action and retaliation if there wasn’t a sign of “good will” on London’s part.

Paris and London have been at loggerheads for months over how many licenses French fishermen are entitled to, as France believes it is entitled to around 80 more permits. France accuses Britain of holding back on licenses.

According to a post-Brexit trade and cooperation agreement, the EU can have continued access to British waters until June 30, 2026, and in case of a dispute with Jersey, the EU can take unilateral measures “proportionate to the alleged failure by the respondent party and the economic and societal impact thereof.”

Last week, Britain agreed to issue an additional 23 licenses to French boats, but under a post-Brexit deal, EU fishermen can continue to work in British waters if they can prove they used to fish there, a day after the deadline set by the European Commission.

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