New French retaliation threat over fishing rights

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Clément Beaune made the comments on radio station RTL, this week, saying that dialogue between jurisdictions would stop by 10 December.

The European Commission has also given British authorities until the same date to sort out the diplomatic crisis. However, the Commission did not specify what might happen if the demand was not met.

During the RTL interview, Mr Beaune was asked by host Alba Ventura why France had repeatedly threatened to take ‘retaliatory measures’ against the Channel Islands and UK but had never implemented them.

These included cutting off or hiking the price of electricity supplied to Jersey by France and imposing increased bureaucratic checks on goods passing between the UK and EU.

At the time, Jersey’s government said France would be acting illegally if it implemented sanctions unilaterally rather than requesting the EU to take them on its behalf.

Asked whether France would implement a ban on British fishing vessels landing their catches into French ports on 10 December, Mr Beaune said: ‘This is one of the possible options but what would be better is to have European-led measures. It is now a debate between the entire European Union and the United Kingdom.

‘We must support our fishermen in the meantime and we are keeping everything on the table.

‘It is better to have dialogue but we have done it at several stages [during the dispute] and it does not bear fruit. The language of force does not work with Boris Johnson. He does not listen to us – I do not know if they are laughing at us.’

Last Friday, EU Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius said on Twitter that he had had a constructive discussion with External Relations Minister Ian Gorst about the fishing situation and they would meet again this week.

When asked about the discussion, a government spokesperson said: ‘Jersey officials are in regular contact with their counterparts in the UK, EU and France. Decisions on licences continue to be made based on evidence, and the door is open for fishers to provide more data.’

Even if this stage of the dispute is resolved and all of the fishing licences requested by France are issued, there is still likely to be another chapter in the political spat.

When Jersey’s first post-Brexit fishing licences were issued to Gallic vessels in April, a ‘nature and extent’ clause was attached to them, governing which species individual boats were able to target and how much they could catch.

However, many fishermen argued there were massive discrepancies within these conditions. One of them, Granville-based Baptiste Guenon, said he normally fished for whelks and scallops at least 100 days a year within the Jersey waters. However, he claimed, his licence permitted him to do this only for 22 days annually.

Environment Minister John Young said earlier this year that following the confusion, the EU had ordered that the condition be suspended.

Speaking in the States last week, he said the condition still needed to be resolved – describing it as a ‘hurdle we need to jump’.

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