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British PM Insists UK Will Make No Concessions in Fishing Row with France

British PM Insists UK Will Make No Concessions in Fishing Row with France
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By Staff, Agencies

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted that the United Kingdom will make no concessions in the ongoing fishing row with France.

During a press conference on the sidelines of the 26th UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, the PM was asked whether London had offered Paris more generous terms for fishing boats in order to settle the rift. Johnson replied that Britain's position has not changed, signaling that the UK is unwilling to make compromises.

The statement comes a day after French President Emmanuel Macron made a U-turn on the promise to take retaliatory measures against Britain. Macron said discussions between the sides will continue and ruled out imposing any restrictions "while we are negotiating".

Britain welcomed the move noting that Paris and London need to discuss not just fishing licenses, but a "wider range of issues as well". UK Secretary for Environment George Eustice will meet French Secretary for European Affairs Clement Beaune on 4 November.

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. France insists that Britain issued only half the permits Paris "is entitled to". London, in turn, argues that it has given licenses to 98 percent of EU vessels.

The row escalated last week after Paris seized a UK trawler, the "Cornelis Gert Jan" in French waters near Le Havre over what local authorities described as a refusal to allow checks to be conducted. Another UK vessel was fined as it "didn't have the right to fish in the zone". Britain said both trawlers were used as a "pawn in the ongoing dispute".

France threatened to impose retaliatory measures against Britain unless the UK grants more licenses to its boats. The threats include:

  • cutting electricity supplies to Crown Dependency Jersey or charging tariffs on it;
  • British vessels receiving limited access to French ports;
  • increasing security checks on UK vessels and trucks, a measure that will cause disruption to trade.

As mentioned earlier, French President Macron has delayed sanctions, but according to the Associated Press, which cited a French government official, the deadline for action has been extended to 4 November. The United Kingdom vowed to take legal action if Paris decides to impose restrictive measures.