France urges ‘rapid solution’ to UK fishing dispute

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.

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 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.

READ ALSO Why are France and the UK fighting about fish?

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.

ANALYSIS Macron’s dilemma over Franco-British fishing spat

Member comments

  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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French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.