The December 10 deadline set by the European Commission to resolve the dispute between France and the United Kingdom over post-Brexit fishing rights has expired, while Paris is still seeking 100 more licenses. Negotiations are expected to continue, however.
On Friday, December 10, France said it was expecting a “gesture of goodwill” from London Continue discussions on post-Brexit fisheries conflicts, After threatening to go to trial if no progress was recorded during the day.
On Friday morning, French Foreign Secretary Clement Beyonc reaffirmed that London would “ask the European Commission to declare a dispute over the weekend if it sticks to its position.”
But he added immediately to the conversation that “if today the English say ‘we give a few dozen extra licenses’ (to French fishermen) as a gesture of goodwill (…) we will take it into account (…) maybe we can continue”.
Under an agreement signed between London and Brussels at the end of 2020, European fishermen can continue to work in British waters if they have been proven to have fished before. But for more than eleven months the French and the English have been arguing over the nature and quantity of the supporting documents to be provided.
France holds 1,004 post-Brexit fishing licenses and “104 still waiting” French Ministry of the Sea.
“We will not have all the licenses we have by this evening, I say very clearly,” Clement Peon lamented on Friday, while betting on the “gesture” of the English.
Intensification of discussions
Under pressure from Paris, the London Commission was asked at the end of November to resolve the fishing license dispute before Friday, December 10th. Thursday evening, The UK has vehemently rejected this deadline, Paris calls for European mediation.
The European Commission, which is in talks with London on behalf of France, was optimistic at noon on the speedy conclusion of the compromise. “The Commission and the United Kingdom are committed to bringing their talks to a successful conclusion today (…). Negotiations have intensified in recent weeks and days,” said Vivian Lunella, a spokeswoman for the European Union.
“Debates will continue late today. We have a mutual understanding. We must get there now. We will try to conclude the discussions,” he stressed, recalling that 95% of the licensed applications received a positive response.
However, at 11pm Brussels time (10pm GMT), Paris announced that it had not yet made any announcement on the British side about granting additional licenses, while it did not plan to contact them in the evening.
“This is a technical process based on concrete elements, not deadlines. The intense discussions that have taken place over the past few days are constructive but have not yet come to an end,” a government spokesman said during the day.
“The commission sent us new components yesterday and this morning and we are reviewing them with the jersey: this is a good thing, but our results will be guided by the quality of these components,” he noted.
It is stranded for 40 replacement vessels
French Maritime Minister Annie Girardin on Thursday denounced the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands’ “delay tactics” for allowing its administrations to grant licenses independently.
He praised the creative work done with Guernsey, which issued about forty licenses in early December, but was critical of Jersey’s trickle-down issues.
On the shores of the French Channel, the fishermen are at the end of their patience, claiming to have provided “all the necessary documents.”
The area between 6 and 12 miles off the British coast now has the largest number of French licenses. Debates over the fate of the 40 replacement ships (purchased to renew the fleet) in particular have stumbled, with files refusing to consider London’s predecessor.
Storm Loïc Escoffier, the owner of the ship Saint-Malo (Saint-Malo), who owns three boats, wants to change one and switch to another “hydrogen or hybrid propulsion”. “A boat ready to sail for 1.5 million euros, you have to be sure about yourself,” he told the AFP.
The tone has already been raised on several occasions: the siege of Jersey by French fishermen last May; French threats of sanctions in October; More recently, French fishermen have blocked the ports and cargo terminal of the Channel Tunnel.