Emmanuel Macron has been slapped after his calls for EU members to unite against the UK in the fight for post-Brexit fishing licenses fell on deaf ears.
Countries like Germany, Spain and Italy have condemned a statement by the French government released over the weekend that targeted Britain for “unsatisfactory behavior” in its “clear non-compliance with the provisions” of the Brexit trade deal.
Britain has refused to grant all fishing licenses requested by French boats under a post-Brexit access deal, leaving Paris furious and fishermen worried about their livelihoods.
But other EU member states refused to be drawn into the attack on France and instead recommended that “further technical work” be done to reach a mutually acceptable deal.
EU member states’ disapproval of Macron’s aggressive tactics comes just days after Brussels accused Emmanuel Macron of arming the EU for his own interests by encouraging the European bloc to cut off access Britain to energy markets and to impose commercial tariffs as part of âretaliatoryâ measures.
Sources in Brussels said the European Commission, which is negotiating on behalf of the bloc, has asked France to “cool the waters” and stop making threats so that an “amicable” solution can be found.
Emmanuel Macron has been slapped after his calls for EU members to unite against the UK in the fight for post-Brexit fishing licenses fell on deaf ears. The states refused to be drawn into the attack on France and instead recommended that “further technical work” be carried out to reach an agreement acceptable to both parties.
Emmanuel Macron was slapped by Brussels for French threats against the UK amid post-Brexit dispute over fishing rights and accused by diplomats of “instrumentalizing” the EU for national interests
The UK has rejected the Channel licenses because it says French boats cannot provide geolocation data to prove they previously fished in the regions and could therefore try to profit from fishing in new territory.
Jersey has so far refused licenses for 75 French vessels, while the UK has refused applications for 35 small boats seeking permission to fish between six and 12 miles off the British coast.
The UK has rejected the Channel licenses because it says French vessels cannot provide geolocation data to prove they previously fished in the regions and could therefore try to profit from fishing in new territory .
The European Commission has so far not intervened in the dispute between France and Britain, but has rejected Macron’s suggestion that Britain is acting unacceptably and has encouraged the two sides to work together to reach an agreement.
France reiterated last week its threat to cut electricity to the Channel Islands, which are close to the French coast and depend on France for their electricity.
The threat was “disproportionate” and “unacceptable” and violated Britain’s post-Brexit treaty with the European Union, according to Jersey Minister of Foreign Affairs Ian Gorst.
Jersey said on Thursday that France was unlikely to follow through on the threat to cut electricity as it would deprive 108,000 islanders of electricity, as well as Jersey’s hospitals and schools.
“So I don’t think that will happen,” Jersey Minister of External Relations Ian Gorst told reporters via video link.
But if France were to carry out the threat after all, “we have contingencies in place,” he said.
France threatened to ‘hit back’ after its fishing fleets (pictured) were denied licenses, and urged the EU to limit UK access to energy and impose commercial tariffs
Jersey has so far refused licenses for 75 French vessels, while the UK has refused applications for 35 small boats seeking permission to fish between six and 12 miles off the UK coast (pictured: a boat from French fishery protesting against Jersey’s refusal of fishing license)
Paris had demanded that all licenses be reinstated or the UK would suffer the consequences, with more details to be released later this month.
But the Commission has taken a softer approach and wants to fully investigate the dispute before deciding to react, insiders said.
Diplomats are believed to be negotiating with Britain ‘boat by boat’ to see which should have access.
Speaking to the Telegraph, a source said: “Once again, France is harnessing the EU for national interests.”
France has accused Britain of violating the post-Brexit trade deal it signed by denying licenses to fishermen who have historically fished in British waters.
But London says licenses were only denied to boats whose captains were unable to provide proof of their traditional lands.
France responds by saying that such evidence was not mentioned in the agreement and that small fishing vessels are not equipped with the type of technology that allows them to prove where they have sailed in the past.
The issue was at the root of a stalemate in the waters off Jersey earlier this year, when French Marine Minister Annick Giradin threatened to cut off power to the island.
Fighting resumed last week when Britain granted 12 licenses to a fleet of 47 boats which had applied to fish in an area six to 12 nautical miles off the British coast.
The question is particularly important for Emmanuel Macron at the moment as he is heading towards an election that he risks losing to far-right challengers.
Fishing represents only a tiny fraction of the economies of the UK and France, but is seen as a symbolic problem for two nations that once conquered vast areas of the world with their naval prowess.
France has threatened to move forward with a set of “retaliatory” measures that will be unveiled later this month if the issue is not resolved.
Little is known about the measures envisaged, but Jean-Pierre Pont – a member of Macron’s En Marche party – has suggested it should include a threat to tear up a key migration pact called the Treaty of Touquet.
The 2003 agreement effectively extended the UK border to French soil, allowing it to set up checkpoints so migrants can be stopped before reaching the UK, where they can seek asylum.
Tearing up the deal would mean many more migrants would end up on British shores.
Unless firm action is taken, Mr Pont warned, the angry fishermen will take justice into their own hands by blocking UK ports and the Channel Tunnel.
MP suggested tearing up a migration treaty with the UK, meaning asylum seekers can be arrested on French soil (pictured), unless more licenses are granted
Olivier Lepretre, head of the powerful Northern France Fisheries Committee, said: “If negotiations fail, we will prevent all French and European products from reaching the UK, and we will prevent all British products from reaching the UK. Europe “.
“Unless Boris [Johnson] pulls back, the British won’t have so many good things to eat this Christmas. I hope we don’t get there.
On Thursday, he said London had only “two weeks” to act, otherwise the blockade would begin.
Britain and France have clashed in recent months over a deal on Australian submarines, the EU’s attempt to block life-saving jabs from arriving in the UK and the protocol for ‘North Ireland.
Former Cabinet Minister Theresa Villiers said: “This is an unacceptable attempt at intimidation. Ministers must stand firm.
Senior Conservative MP David Jones urged Macron to “calm the rhetoric”, adding: “The use of gangsterism, which it is indeed about, can never be justified.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said disputes with Britain were escalating and it was up to London to come up with ideas to improve relations. “The ball is in their court,” he added.