express– The Ministry of the Sea in France has requested 169 authorisations for its fishermen looking to access the waters around Jersey. But France has been infuriated by what it claims is an extremely slow response from Britain for the granting of licenses since Brexit. Despite the agreement between the UK and EU, which came into force on January 1, the access of European fishermen to British waters remains a subject of increased tension.
In the meantime, provisional licenses have been granted for 177 vessels and although these were extended in June, they are due to expire on September 30.
Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune has launched a furious attack, denouncing an exasperating “anti-game” on the part of Britain.
He raged during a hearing by a committee of the National Assembly: “There is a very bad game, an anti-game, to put it that way, from Britain.
“We have been patient. We have obtained results in a number of fishing areas and licenses, but we are far from the target.”
Mr Beaune further warned: “We are at the end of our patience.”
The Government minister added “all the supporting documents” needed to prove the activity of 169 boats in Jersey have been sent to the British authorities, and he is not waiting for the UK to “respect its commitments”.
The furious outburst and warning from Mr Beaune towards the UK has been given full backing by a French MEP.
Stephanie Yon-Courtin wrote on Twitter: “Thank you @CBeaune for raising the tone for the fishing sector in Normandy and elsewhere.
“Together we keep the pressure on the United Kingdom to honour the Brexit deal today and tomorrow.
“The whole agreement and nothing but the agreement!”
Senator Jean-Francois Rapin, who is also President of the European Affairs Committee, also tweeted: “What a failure! Our fishermen continue to suffer!
“Even if the English do not play the game as they should, one can also wonder if the French and European authorities were not naïve at the time of the agreement.”
Minister Annick Girardin’s entourage sent a warning to the UK if they fail to grant the required licenses to fishermen by September 30.
The Ministry of the Sea “will ask the European Union to activate the restrictive measures” provided for in the agreement, which the minister’s team warned could give rise to new customs duties, or retaliatory measures in non-fishing markets.
A decision on waters around Guernsey is also being eagerly awaited, where 167 temporary licenses have been issued with the same expiration date.
Another 86 license applications are pending validation for areas between 6 and 12 nautical miles off the British coast.