Brexit: France publishes sanctions list if UK retains fishing licenses



French fishermen repair their nets in Boulogne-sur-Mer, northern France, December 28, 2020. Photo taken December 28, 2020. REUTERS / Charles Platiau

PARIS, October 27 (Reuters) – France has published a list of sanctions that could come into effect from November 2 unless sufficient progress is made in its post-Brexit fishing line with Britain, and said she was working on a second round of sanctions that could affect the UK’s power supply.

The UK government has said “the threats are disappointing and disproportionate” and would seek urgent clarification before considering any response.

France could step up border and health checks on goods coming from Great Britain, prevent British fishing vessels from accessing designated French ports and tighten controls on trucks to and from the United Kingdom, said said the Ministries of Maritime and European Affairs in a joint statement.

“A second series of measures is in preparation. France does not rule out reviewing its power supply to the United Kingdom,” the statement said.

French fishermen do not have half the licenses they need to fish in British waters and which Paris says are owed to them after Brexit, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said earlier today.

Attal had indicated that France was drawing up a list of sanctions that it could make public as early as Thursday. Some of them would go into effect early next week unless sufficient progress is made, he added.

“Our patience is running out,” said Attal, who had stressed that the supply of electricity from France to Britain could be one of the measures.

French European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune said separately at a French parliamentary hearing that France could step up border controls on goods from Britain if the fishing license situation does not improve not.

“Our objective is not to impose these measures, it is to obtain the licenses,” added Beaune.

A spokesperson for the UK government said it would convey its concerns to the European Commission and the French government.

“The threats from France are disappointing and disproportionate, and do not correspond to what we would expect from a close ally and partner.”

“The threatened measures do not appear to be consistent with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TAC) and broader international law, and, if implemented, will be the subject of an appropriate and calibrated response.”

Brexit Minister David Frost said there had been no formal communication from the French government on the matter.

The dispute revolves around the issuance of fishing licenses in territorial waters six to 12 nautical miles off the British coast, as well as the seas off Jersey, a Crown dependency in the English Channel.

Tensions prompted France and Britain to send maritime vessels off the coast of Jersey earlier this year. Read more

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Costas Pitas in London and Dominique Vidalon in Paris Editing by Richard Lough, Barbara Lewis, William Maclean, Sandra Maler and Sonya Hepinstall

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