Macron and Johnson Agree to De-Escalate Brexit Spat on Fish
The U.K. and France have agreed to work together to solve their dispute over fishing rights following a meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit of leaders in Rome, a French official said.
The two sides will aim to prevent retaliatory measures from France coming into force as planned on Tuesday and look at ways to clear up problems with issuing licenses to French boats, the French official said. A press officer for Johnson declined to comment.
The fight between Britain and France has been one of the biggest issues hanging over the G-20 meeting. Although the fishing rights at stake represent only a tiny percentage of each countries’ economy, the ill will that the dispute has generated is threatening to poison much bigger issues, like the European Union’s post-Brexit relationship with the U.K. and even efforts to tackle climate change.
Macron told Johnson during the 30-minute conversation that he’s ready to help secure a meaningful agreement at the United Nations COP26 climate summit that Johnson will be hosting in Glasgow, Scotland from Sunday, the French official said.
The government in Paris has threatened to impose tighter controls on goods shipped across the Channel and to stop British trawlers from unloading their catch at French ports unless the U.K. grants more fishing licenses to French boats. The U.K. government says it has granted 98% of license applications from EU vessels since Brexit. France says it’s only 90% and practically all of the boats that have been refused permits are French, a result it sees as deliberate and provocative.
The French official said that a few dozen boats need to be given access to British waters before Tuesday in order to defer the sanctions and allow time for broader discussions.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.