France says no ‘retreat’ on UK fishing demands: minister
France is not backing down on its demand that the British crown dependency of Jersey grant all outstanding requests for post-Brexit licenses to French fishermen, its Europe Minister Clement Beaune told AFP on Friday.
“There is no abandonment, nor retreat. We are continuing with negotiations as well as pressure. We are requesting the same number of licenses,” Beaune said.
His comments came after French fishing representatives reacted furiously to a proposal to spend millions of euros to compensate the scrapping of boats no longer able to ply Jersey waters.
Jersey is insisting that French fishermen prove they were already making catches in Jersey waters before Britain left the European Union last January, an administrative requirement that some are struggling to meet.
On top of outstanding requests, Jersey has granted only temporary licenses while talks with France continue, but Paris insists these must be made permanent, in line with a post-Brexit trade accord with the EU.
“In total it involves 150 to 200 licenses. That remains our demand,” Beaune said.
“We are keeping all options on the table if a dialogue doesn’t bear fruit,” he said.
France has threatened to ban British boats from unloading their catches at French ports and to subject all British imports to inspections, raising the prospect of a trade war between the neighbours.
But on Thursday, Maritime Minister Annick Girardin surprised fishermen by saying the government was preparing a rescue plan of 40-to-60 million euros ($45-$70 million) for owners of boats which are forced to remain in port.