France ‘will not use fishermen as bargaining chip’ for Brexit deal

France will not sell out its fishermen for a post-Brexit trade deal, a minister said on Thursday, after the EU's chief negotiator urged European states to come up with a compromise on the issue.

France 'will not use fishermen as bargaining chip' for Brexit deal
Photo: AFP

European Affairs minister Clement Beaune set out Paris's hardline stance during talks in the Netherlands, one of the other countries worried about fishing rights as trade negotiations with Britain reach their most delicate stage.

“Our fishermen will not be a bargaining chip for Brexit, they will not have to pay the price for Britain's choices,” Beaune told reporters alongside Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok.

Beaune said a deal “remains possible” but “certainly not by sacrificing the interests of our fishermen.”

“A bad deal would be the worst outcome. And so we are ready for a no-deal scenario, and we will not accept a bad compromise.”

Blok said it was “not too late for a deal” but stressed the importance of the issue.

“To succeed for our fishermen, for everyone, it is enormously important that France, the Netherlands and all of Europe stay united.”


Their comments came after the EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier urged European envoys on Wednesday in Brussels to come up with a compromise on fishing rights to present to Britain.

“If we want an agreement, we will also need to find agreement on fish,” Barnier told the envoys, according to a diplomat who was briefed on the matter.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted on the importance of a deal on fish quotas in a phone conversation with European Council President Charles Michel on Wednesday, an EU source said.

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Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

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The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.