France to Consult With EU on Retaliation Over U.K. Fishing Spat
(Bloomberg) -- France will consult with its European Union partners before retaliating against the U.K. after accusing Britain of breaching its post-Brexit commitments by barring French fishing vessels from its waters.
The government has warned that the U.K. has violated the Brexit agreement after it denied several EU fishing boats licenses. The dispute has ratcheted up diplomatic tensions over a point that created bitter divisions with France when Britain was negotiating its exit from the bloc.
“I want the licenses back,” Sea Minister Annick Girardin said in a statement after meeting with fishermen representatives on Wednesday. “This new blow from the U.K. shows their ill will in complying with their commitments.”
Earlier this week, the U.K. granted only 12 of 47 license applications from small vessels to fish in British waters. The other licenses weren’t approved because the boats weren’t able to show sufficient evidence of having fished in the waters historically, the U.K. government said. Others are pending approval.
France previously threatened to block regulations that would allow U.K. financial firms to do business in the EU if the country doesn’t respect its commitments on fishing rights. Earlier this year, Britain and France even deployed warships to the isle of Jersey during protests about curtailing the ability of French boats to fish in British seas.
French junior Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said measures to retaliate would be defined in the coming days “at the national and European levels.”
Girardin said the French government has been providing data documenting the long-running presence of French boats to their U.K. counterparts for months.
“We have provided all the necessary information, we have transmitted all the data requested,” she said. “I am now calling for European solidarity.”
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