Meeting at the top to try to calm tensions over the fishing issue. The British Secretary of State for Brexit, David Frost, is due to meet the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, in Paris at the end of the morning on Thursday November 4.
Paris and London are in conflict over the fishing licenses granted to Europeans after Brexit, to the point that France threatens Britain with sanctions if London does not grant more licenses to French fishermen.
France had planned in particular to prohibit, as of last Monday at midnight, British fishing vessels from unloading their cargoes in French ports, and to strengthen customs controls of all trucks. These sanctions were finally lifted provisionally, pending the Paris meeting.
“It is not while we are negotiating that we will impose sanctions”, had defended Emmanuel Macron in front of the press, on the sidelines of the COP26 in Glasgow, in the United Kingdom. “The next few hours are important hours”, assured the French president. “We have received the first signals from the British authorities to speed up trade. A response to the latest proposals from the French authorities is expected by Wednesday ”, the French presidency had further underlined on Monday.
In a clear concern for appeasement, the Scottish trawler Cornelis-Gert-Jan, immobilized in France for a week for having fished more than two tons of scallops without a license, left the port of Le Havre at the end of the afternoon on Wednesday.
The British government had, for its part, “Greeted” the postponement of sanctions, saying “Congratulate France on recognizing that in-depth discussions are necessary to resolve all the difficulties in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU”.
Under the Brexit deal, European fishermen can continue to work in certain UK waters provided they can prove that they previously fished there. But the French and the British argue over the nature and extent of the supporting documents to be provided.
About a quarter of French catches in volume (around 20% in value) come from British waters, which are rich in fish, which are the source of 650 million euros in annual sales for European fishermen.
Discussions on the subject took place on Wednesday in Brussels between the United Kingdom and the European Commission, during which the sensitive point of replacement vessels was discussed for the first time, namely the new French fishing vessels having taken the place of older, according to a European source.
The British, who refused to take them into account, seem to have softened their position, but they want guarantees that their catches will not be greater than those of the boats they have replaced, according to the same source.
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Fishing crisis: a meeting in Paris between France and the United Kingdom to try to break the deadlock