Two days left before the French escalate actions against the UK over the fishing licence debacle and no closer to resolving the situation

Two days left before the France escalate actions against the UK over the fishing licences debacle and no closer to resolving the situation

With only two days left before the French escalate actions against the UK over the fishing licence debacle, both nations look no closer to resolving the situation.

Last night Lord Frost, the UK Chief Brexit Negotiator, tweeted last night about the situation. He said:

“I would like to set out where things stand between the UK and the EU on fisheries and related issues, and why recent French rhetoric and threats, potentially leading to a breach by the EU of its Treaty obligations, are such an important matter for us.

We have been in talks with the EU Commission for weeks on fisheries licensing & have granted 98% of applications. We do so in good faith & are fully delivering on our TCA obligation – to license vessels which can prove they have actually fished previously in our 6-12nm limit.

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That is why we are concerned and surprised by the comments seemingly made by @JeanCASTEX to @vonderLeyen that: “it is indispensable to show European public opinion that … it causes more damage to leave the EU than to stay in.”

I hope this opinion is not held more widely across the EU. To see it expressed in this way is clearly very troubling and very problematic in the current context when we are trying to solve many highly sensitive issues, including on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

This is all the more so as the threats made by France this week to our fishing industry, to energy supplies, and to future cooperation, eg through the Horizon research programme, unfortunately form part of a pattern that has persisted for much of this year.

As I set out yesterday to @MarosSefcovic, these threats, if implemented on 2 November, would put the EU in breach of its obligations under our trade agreement. So we are actively considering launching dispute settlement proceedings as set out in Article 738 of the TCA.

For our part we will continue to implement our obligations under the TCA. We will continue to talk constructively to try to resolve all the differences between us, and we urge the EU and France to step back from rhetoric and actions that make this more difficult.”

French State Secretary for European Affairs, Clement Beaune this morning replied to the UK by tweeting:

“Let’s explain what’s going on on fisheries, beyond spin.

Following the Brexit deal (TCA), access was due to be granted within days to EU boats. We have now been negotiating patiently and constructively for 10 months, replying to a series of detailed and additional requests from British authorities, boat by boat.

What is the current situation? We do not lack just a few licences, but more than 40% of French detailed requests. For the EU as a whole, around 90% of the expected licences have been granted, but all the missing ones are French.

After 10 months, when such a significant amount of licences, targeting one country, is missing, it’s not a technical issue, it’s a political choice and a breach of the TCA. A friend, ally and responsible partner should stand by its world and comply with legal commitments.

This is why France asks for action at the EU level, within the framework of the TCA, and stands ready to implement proportionate and reversible measures from November 2nd, as we have announced repeatedly since last April. These measures are fully in line with the TCA.

It’s positive to read that the UK cares about the TCA; France and the EU expect its full respect and implementation, regarding fishing rights, the Northern Ireland protocol and all other – agreed and ratified – matters.”

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