France calls for 'rapid solution' to fishing dispute after fresh talks with UK

·2-min read

France has urged a "rapid solution" to the ongoing post-Brexit fishing row with Britain which has threatened to degenerate into a full-blown trade war, after new talks aimed at breaking weeks of deadlock.

“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 following Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Beaune’s comment indicates that no breakthrough was found in the latest talks although dialogue is likely to continue.

Give dialogue a chance

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 fish in 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 London strongly contests.

The total volumes affected are tiny in terms of overall France-UK bilateral trade, and catches for French boats are thought to be worth just €6m annually.

But the dispute has taken on a political importance in both countries.

Macron is keen to talk tough in the run up to presidential elections next Spring where he will likely run for re-election while British PM Boris Johnson is keen to try and hang on to some of what was lost in the fisheries part of the Brexit negotiations.

(with AFP)

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