Fishing crisis: Christophe Castaner calls into question the responsibility of Michel Barnier as negotiator

The thorny diplomatic issue of fishing is invited into the presidential debate. But this time, it is the majority which calls into question the responsibility of an opponent. Asked about the crisis in Franco-British relations around fishing which has been going on for weeks, Christophe Castaner, boss of the deputies of La République en Marche (LRM), indeed questioned, Friday, November 5, the responsibility of Michel Barnier, the former Brexit negotiator for the European Union (EU), who is seeking the nomination of the Republicans (LR) party for the presidential election. According to Mr. Castaner, our English neighbors would benefit from “Inaccuracies” of a text which “Was not negotiated at best” by the latter.

For several weeks, Paris and London have been wrestling around the granting of fishing licenses by the British to European trawlers, provided for in the post-Brexit agreement. Estimating that there are more than two hundred licenses to be awarded to French fishermen, a figure that the United Kingdom disputes, France had threatened to prohibit on Monday British fishing vessels from unloading their cargoes in French ports and strengthen customs controls on all trucks. After tensions escalated, sanctions were finally suspended and talks resumed between the two countries.

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A text which “was not negotiated at best”

One month before the Congress of the Republicans party, while the campaign is accelerating, the majority attacks, between the lines of this declaration, a potential candidate who highlights his experience in the service of Europe. “Those who negotiated the exit treaty with Brexit and told us: Don’t worry, everything is fine”… We can see that there are indeed inaccuracies in the text on which the United Kingdom is playing “, declared on Franceinfo Mr. Castaner.

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Asked about the responsibility of Michel Barnier, the former Minister of the Interior replied: “If the United Kingdom can point out that there is a wolf in the text, it is because indeed it was not negotiated at best. “ Now, he says, ” behind that there are women and men, fishermen ” threatened with not being able to exercise their profession in British territorial waters.

The chairman of the LRM parliamentary group asserted that French fishermen had government support and that the executive and majority parliamentarians would “Do everything so that they can continue to exercise their profession”.

“The English are not in good faith,” replied Barnier.

Traveling to Tours on Friday before a public meeting scheduled for the evening in Orléans, Michel Barnier refused to “To be controversial on such a serious subject”. “Mr. Castaner must be careful with his words, French fishermen must be respected”, he insisted.

Rather than responding head-on to the leader of the parliamentary majority, the LR congress candidate wished to highlight the difficulty of the negotiation exercise as his knowledge of the file: “These agreements, I negotiated them on behalf of twenty-seven governments, the fishery is part of a sum of 1,400 pages”. During the Brexit negotiations in Brussels, the issue had not ceased to crystallize tensions between the EU and the United Kingdom.

“The English are not in good faith”, continued Mr. Barnier, in accordance with his comments made earlier in the week at RMC’s microphone and on the set of France 2. At the beginning of October, the man who is nicknamed in Brussels “Mr. Brexit” had already declared that “The British are behaving like filibusters nowadays on the question of fishermen”.

Despite the decline in invectives between France and the United Kingdom and the resumption of discussions, “Significant differences” remain between the two states on the issue, said Thursday the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, after his meeting with the British Secretary of State responsible for Brexit, David Frost. The two Secretaries of State must take stock next week on the implementation by the British of a new methodology for approving and accounting for licenses.

The World with AFP

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Fishing crisis: Christophe Castaner calls into question the responsibility of Michel Barnier as negotiator