Macron erupts! France asks EU to start legal action against UK over fishing row

Macron's fishing threats would harm 'everybody' says expert

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Clement Beaune, France’s Minister for European Affairs, has said Paris will ask the European Commission to look into taking legal action against Britain over fishing licences. It comes after Mr Beaune said France had obtained 93 percent of the licences it has applied for to enable its fishermen to land in UK waters.

Maritime Minister Annick Giradin said 73 applications were still outstanding.

Mr Beaune, a close ally of French President Emmanuel Macron, insisted Paris would now seek the assistance of the European Commission to get the rest of the licences approved.

He said: “The next step will be to ask the Commission in the coming days to convene the Partnership Council as provided for under the Brexit trade deal to settle a problem.”

Mr Beaune added: “We will ask the Commission in the coming days to start litigation to obtain the licences we are entitled to.”

The 40-year-old was speaking to reporters following a meeting at the Elysée Palace with President Macron, French fishermen and elected representatives of the regions concerned.

In a statement, the Élysée Palace said the meeting was to “take stock of the situation regarding the licences obtained, the prospects for the licences not obtained at this stage and the implementation of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) with the UK”.

The National Fisheries Committee and representatives of fishermen from Hauts-de-France, Normandy and Brittany were all invited.

The row over fishing licences has been ongoing ever since the new Brexit TCA came into force in January.

Britain left the EU Common Fisheries Policy and took back control of its exclusive 6-12 mile coastal fishing zone.

The number of EU catches will also be reduced by 25 percent over the next five years, while EU fishing boats need to provide historical evidence of landing in UK waters before Brexit.

Disputes have since raged over the interpretation of the rules, while earlier this year, French boats blockaded the main port in Jersey and threatened to cut off electricity supplies if their demands were not met.

The UK has issued more than 1,000 licences to EU vessels and intensive talks have continued between London and Paris in recent weeks.

Last weekend, an additional 23 applications were approved by UK officials.


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Some 18 application were accepted to replacement vessels that had been able to present “new evidence” of having previously fished British grounds, a Government spokeswomen said.

Jersey also issued permanent licences to a further five vessels.

The UK Government has constantly said it will only grant fishing licences to vessels which adhere to the criteria outlined in the Brexit trade deal signed last December.

EU vessels need to prove they have fished in UK waters for one day in each of the four years between 2012 and 2016.

For EU boats operating in Jersey and Guernsey, they are required to provide evidence of fishing for more than 10 days in one year between 2012 and 2016.

A UK Government spokesperson told “Our approach to licensing has been reasonable and entirely in line with the TCA.

“We have licensed vessels where sufficient evidence has been provided to demonstrate they qualify for access under the TCA.

“Where that evidence has not been provided, licences have not been issued.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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