France urges ‘rapid solution’ to UK fishing dispute

French fishing crews are at the centre of a post-Brexit licences row
French fishing crews are at the centre of a post-Brexit licences row. Photo: Sameer Al Doumy/AFP
France on Tuesday called for a "rapid solution" to a fishing dispute with Britain that has threatened to degenerate into a full-blown trade war, after new talks aimed at breaking weeks of deadlock.

“France remains open to dialogue, but a rapid solution must be found for our fishermen, in line with the implementation of our agreements,” France’s Europe Minister Clément Beaune wrote on Twitter after telephone talks with Britain’s Brexit minister, David Frost.

The conversation came after a crunch face-to-face meeting between the two men in Paris on Thursday on a dispute that has severely exacerbated tensions between the Channel neighbours in the wake of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

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Beaune’s tweeted comment indicates that no breakthrough was found in the latest talks although dialogue is likely to continue.

France had threatened to ban British boats from unloading their catches at some French ports and to subject all British imports to inspections.

President Emmanuel Macron said France would hold off imposing the measures to give dialogue a chance but French officials have insisted the all options remain on the table should dialogue fail.

Under a deal agreed by Britain and the EU late last year, European fishing vessels can continue to ply UK waters if they operated there in the past.

But Paris says dozens of French boats have had their applications to fish the UK’s rich waters rejected, an assessment strongly contested by London.

The total volumes affected are tiny in terms of overall France-UK bilateral trade.

But the dispute has acquired a political importance in both countries.

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  1. The swell of opinion in the UK is that the continuous threats and abuse emanating from France – whether carried out or not – is that France will weaponise any kind of dependency/ co-operation and that Britain should disentangle itself from all joint ventures ( energy, nuclear and military ).

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