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France threatens ‘reprisals’ over Brexit fishing deal

France on Tuesday threatened "reprisals" against Britain unless a post-Brexit deal on fishing rights is implemented, the latest sign of cross-Channel tensions over the highly sensitive sector.

France threatens 'reprisals' over Brexit fishing deal
French fishermen stand near a banner during a protest action against the delay in granting licenses to access British waters at the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer on April 22nd. (Photo: Denis CHARLET / AFP)

French fishermen say they are being prevented from operating in British waters because of difficulties in obtaining licenses.

They began a protest movement last week by blockading trucks bringing fish from Britain to France, saying that only 22 boats out of 120 from the Boulogne-sur-Mer port had obtained a licence for British waters. 

“We are asking for the whole deal, nothing but the deal, and for as long as it has not been implemented… we will carry out reprisals in other sectors if it is necessary,” French Europe Minister Clément Beaune told the BFM Business channel on Tuesday.

British authorities have contested the French industry’s claims, saying last Friday that 87 French boats had received licenses for fishing within six to 12 nautical miles from the UK coast.

Fishing rights were one of the most complicated questions to negotiate in the Brexit deal agreed between Britain and the European Union for the UK’s full departure from the bloc on January 1st.

Britain made fishing rights a key issue in the negotiations, with control over access to its waters seen as a sign of British sovereignty.

READ ALSO: France warns UK: ‘Our fishermen are as important as yours’

Beaune said that French reprisals could be in the form of holding up approvals for British financial service operators to work in the EU.

“The United Kingdom is expecting quite a few authorisations from us for financial services. We won’t give any for as long as we don’t have guarantees on fishing and other issues,” he added.

“It’s give-give. Everyone needs to respect their commitments, if not we will be as brutal and difficult as is necessary as a partner,” he said.

The British fishing sector has also complained about red tape preventing the export of catches to the European continent.

In January, to protest delays to shipments, British exporters drove lorries to central London in a sign of tensions with the UK government of Boris Johnson.

Member comments

  1. Licenses for British financial service operators to work in the EU that bring in millions compared to a few fishermen that bring in, well fish. Says it all really.

  2. It’s the EU that has been trying to force financial services based in London to move to the EU by refusing ‘equivalence’. If they deny them registration, the business will stay in London. And so will the capital. Seems like a case of ‘do as I say or I’ll shoot myself in the head’. As for the French fishermen, they have to apply via the EU and many of them cannot meet their requirements.Consequently, the licence applications don’t even reach the UK single licensing authority.

  3. Clement Beaune is perhaps not the most convincing guy when threatening brutality and difficulty ?

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POLITICS

British PM Boris Johnson’s dad becomes French

The Brexit-supporting father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acquired French citizenship, a French justice ministry source told AFP.

British PM Boris Johnson's dad becomes French

A Conservative who once worked for the European Commission in Brussels, Stanley Johnson opposed Brexit at first but swung behind the EU departure project following 2016’s narrow referendum vote that was championed by his son.

The elder Johnson’s ties to France are through his French mother, and he speaks the language.

The 81-year-old filed his citizenship application at the French consulate in London in November last year, with a six-month deadline for the justice ministry to object elapsing on Wednesday.

“Based on the facts in his application, and without a refusal by the justice minister, Mr Stanley Johnson acquired French nationality on May 18 2022,” the ministry told AFP.

READ ALSO Am I eligible for French citizenship?

“This decision concerns only Mr Stanley Johnson and does not extend to his descendants,” it added.

The most common ways of acquiring French nationality are through residency in the country or marriage to a French citizen.

However it is possible to become French through family connections, although France accepts only a French parent – not a grandparent like Ireland or a great-grandparent like Italy – in these types of application.

READ ALSO How to obtain French citizenship through ancestry

French law normally prevents children of its citizens from claiming nationality if their family has been abroad for more than 50 years without making use of their rights.

But their applications can still be considered if they can prove “concrete ties of a cultural, professional, economic or family nature” with France — a clause Stanley invoked in his application.

“I’ll always be European, that’s for sure,” Stanley Johnson told RTL radio in French in a December 2020 interview.

He had come under fire at home for his plans, announced at the same time most Britons were losing the right to travel freely across the European Union as a post-Brexit “transition period” ended.

“It’s not a question of becoming French. If I understand correctly I am French! My mother was born in France, her mother was completely French as was her grandfather,” Stanley said.

“For me it’s a question of obtaining what I already have and I am very happy about that,” he added.

Around 3,100 British people acquired French nationality in 2020, according to the latest figures available from EU statistics agency Eurostat, making France the second most popular choice for acquiring European citizenship, after Germany.

Stanley Johnson has become a public figure in Britain following his son’s political rise, appearing on a celebrity reality TV show in 2017 and appearing regularly in the media.

His ex-wife Charlotte Fawcett — Boris’s mother — told a biographer recently that Stanley had beaten her many times, breaking her nose on one occasion.

Last year two women, a Conservative MP and a journalist, accused him of groping or touching them inappropriately.

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