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Prime Minister Jean Castex “seized” the presidency of the European Commission on Tuesday over the conflict with the United Kingdom over fisheries, asking that it “move more” and be “firmer” with London .
Prime Minister Jean Castex called on the European Commission on Tuesday 5 October to ensure more firmly that the commitments on fishing made by Great Britain are respected, which “does not respect the signature it has itself. same data “.
“The Commission is moving, it must do more”, declared the head of government, during the session of questions to the government in the National Assembly.
Jean Castex announced the next convening by France of the “partnership council”, made up of European and British representatives, which is supposed to guarantee the application of the trade and cooperation agreement concluded between Brussels and London.
“This provision of internal law in the (European) Union should make it possible to further verbalize this serious and repeated failure and to involve the Commission even more in the resolution of this dispute”, explained the head of government. “If that is not enough, then we will seize the arbitration panel of the agreement to get the British to respect their word. We will question all the conditions for the more comprehensive implementation of the agreements concluded under the aegis of the European Union, but also, if necessary, the bilateral cooperation that we have with the United Kingdom in many areas “, warned Jean Castex.
The post-Brexit agreement, reached in extremis at the end of last year between London and Brussels, provides that European fishermen can continue to work in certain British waters on condition that they obtain a license, granted if they can prove that they fished there before.
The Channel Island of Jersey announced, on September 29, the granting of 64 definitive licenses to French boats (against 169 requested by Paris) and the rejection of 75 applications. The day before, London had granted 12 additional authorizations in its waters, within the limit of 6 to 12 nautical miles from its coasts (against 87 requested).
France considers insufficient the number of licenses issued by the United Kingdom to French fishermen at the end of September. “From month to month, the United Kingdom presents new conditions of payment, refuses certain data without any argument and postpones the granting of definitive licenses,” lamented Jean Castex to the National Assembly.
“In the next few days, we will take European or national pressure measures on the United Kingdom,” insisted on Tuesday morning the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, waving the threat of energy weapons. “For example, we can imagine the Channel Islands, the United Kingdom depending on our energy supply …”, he added, without finishing his sentence.
In May, the Minister of the Sea, Annick Girardin, had already alluded to possible repercussions on the “transmission of electricity by submarine cable” which supplies the island of Jersey from France. And on September 30, she indicated that Paris would shortly present “retaliatory measures” in response to the low number of British licenses granted to French fishermen.
“Our patience has a clear limit, that of exasperation and that of our fishermen”, insisted Clément Beaune. “We have been discussing calmly, kindly for nine months. Enough!” He said. “They think they can live on their own and in addition hit Europe. And since that does not work, they are overbearing and aggressive,” said the Secretary of State.
For its part, the Ministry of the Sea has published its work schedule on the file, to show its determination to stand alongside fishing professionals. Wednesday, “meeting with national and European parliamentarians, the regional councils of Brittany, Hauts-de-France and Normandy, the departmental councils and the mayors concerned”, he announced.
Monday, October 11, “trip to Luxembourg to meet the European Fisheries Ministers. Preparation of a list of European retaliatory measures (and) trip to Brussels” to meet the European Commissioner in charge of fisheries and discuss the measures of European retaliation. The “announcement of European and French responses” is promised for “the second half of October”.
With AFP and Reuters