Paris and Brussels threatened to take retaliatory measures against the United Kingdom unless London grants more licenses to French boats. French ministers spoke of cutting electricity to Crown Dependency Jersey or charging tariffs on it.
Britain, France, and the European Union have settled a row over fishing licenses, delaying the trade war the sides have threatened each other with in recent months. According to the British media, talks between the sides have yielded results, with Britain and the Channel Islands agreeing to issue 83 licenses to small French boats.
The Guardian, however, writes that the number of licenses did not fully meet France’s demands, which reportedly asked for over 100 licenses for its boats. The news prompted criticism from the French Committee on Maritime Fisheries, which said they will go ahead with a pre-Christmas blockade of British goods entering the port of Calais.
“Far from satisfying the professionals of the sector, this news exasperates the fishermen of Hauts-de-France, who feel both betrayed by the British government…and neglected by the European Commission. Movements will be expected, movements which will target the import of British products”, the Committee for Maritime Fisheries in the region said in a statement.
French fishermen staged a similar blockade last month, blocking not only Calais, but also the Eurotunnel linking Britain to the European mainland in what they described as a “demonstration of the quality and ability of professional fishermen to mobilise in response to the UK’s provocative, contemptuous, and humiliating attitude towards them”.
French Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin said the government would help those fishermen whose didn’t receive fishing permits from the United Kingdom.
At the heart of the dispute is the implementation of the Brexit deal, particularly, the issue of fishing licenses. Members of the European Union enjoy equal access to the bloc’s waters, but since Britain left the EU nations need to apply for licenses in order to fish in the UK’s waters.
In order to get permission, nations need to prove that they had fished in a particular area prior to the Brexit negotiations (1 February 2017 and 31 January 2020). There have been disagreements over how much evidence is needed for a boat to be granted a license.
French authorities previously threatened the United Kingdom with retaliatory measures unless the row is settled. The proposal included limiting British vessels’ access to local ports, increasing security checks on UK vessels and trucks, a measure that would cause disruption to trade as well as cutting electricity supplies to Crown Dependency Jersey or charging tariffs on it. In addition, France asked the European Union to start legal proceedings against Britain.