Tension as UK, France disagree over fishing rights
France and the UK are embroiled in a dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights and licences for French boats.
Speaking ahead of the G20 summit in Rome, which sets the stage for the COP26 climate summit, the French president Mr Macron told the Financial Times that UK backpedalling on Brexit commitments “is not a big sign of… credibility”.
He was referring to the fishing row and disputes over Northern Ireland.
The argument, which began when the UK and Jersey denied fishing licences to dozens of French boats last month, is essentially over how many French fishing boats are allowed to fish in UK waters.
Mr Macron said: “Make no mistake, it is not just for the Europeans but all of their partners.
“Because when you spend years negotiating a treaty and then a few months later you do the opposite of what was decided on the aspects that suit you the least, it is not a big sign of your credibility.”
France has said it could stop UK boats landing in its ports if the row over licences is not resolved.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he fears the EU-UK trade agreement may have been breached.
He added that the UK government would do “whatever is necessary to ensure UK interests”.
Meanwhile, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg says she has seen a letter that appears to show the French Prime Minister Jean Castex appealing to the EU to demonstrate there is “more damage to leaving the EU than to remaining there”.
Jean-Marc Puissesseau, president and chairman of the ports of Calais and Boulogne, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the dispute concerned only about 40 boats, “a drop of water in an ocean”.
He said that these boats had been unable to prove their history of fishing in British waters either because they had been unable to take part in a monitoring survey or because the fisherman had replaced their boats with newer models.
If the French sanctions go ahead, “it will be terrible for both sides of the Channel, for you, for us, for the ports, for the fishermen in your country, for the fishermen in our country – and that’s only for 40 little boats that are not allowed to fish in your country”, he said.