AbroadA day before the European deadline, France and the United Kingdom are still at odds over fishing. French authorities say the British still need to approve nearly 100 permits for French fishermen who want to work in British waters. Minister Annick Girardin threatens punitive action.
Countries are arguing over fisheries now that the UK has left the European Union. London and Brussels have devised a system whereby licenses are granted to fishermen who want to fish in each other’s waters, but implementation is difficult.
The French believe that the UK grants too few permits, while the British argue that sometimes the correct documentation is not provided. French Minister Annick Girardin said, Thursday, that her country will compete for any fishing license.
“If all permits are not granted by Friday evening, France will request a meeting of the Association Council to determine that the UK has failed to meet its obligations,” Girardin said. It is also there where the decision on sanctions can be made.
We have received 1,004 permits and are expecting 94 more. This is not an anecdote, it is of paramount importance: it is about the fishermen and their families. Every job at sea means four jobs on land.”
France is demanding more licenses for the 6 to 12-mile British zone. “We are still missing 53 permits, of which 40 are requests to replace boats,” the minister said. These are the boats that fishermen have bought to replenish their fleet, but London refuses to acknowledge past activities.
The dispute has already escalated. French authorities threatened commercial action and seized a British fishing boat earlier this year. Angry French fishermen also set up a blockade to disrupt trade between the nations.
The European Commission has set a deadline for the British of 10 December. Then the British must have responded to member states’ concerns about fishing licenses.
Meanwhile, the British government says it does not recognize the European deadline for a deal by December 10. “We’ve never set a deadline. I think they have one of their own but we’re not working on that,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman. Environment Minister George Eustis is expected to hold further negotiations on Friday with Environment Commissioner Virginijos Syncevicius.
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