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France gives Britain until November 1 to grant its fishing fleet more licenses or face retaliation

France heats up fishing cold war giving Britain until November 1 to grant its fishing fleet more licenses or face retaliation with threats to cut cross-channel power lines

  • Paris’s maritime minister Annick Girardin told EU the UK has until November 1
  • France has tacitly threatened to throttle power supplies to the UK and Jersey
  • French boats were free to fish in six-to-12 mile zone when the UK was in the EU
  • Paris wants to keep access but has only been given 40% of previous licences


France has threatened to light a fire under the fishing cold war, giving Britain less than a fortnight to give its trawlers access to rich UK waters or face punitive action.

Paris’s maritime minister Annick Girardin has told the European Union that Boris Johnson’s Government has until November 1 to reverse the post-Brexit tightening of access.

France has tacitly threatened to throttle cross-Channel power supplies, as well as electricity for the Channel Islands, which have also restricted access to French boats.

French boats were free to fish in the six-to-12 mile zone when the UK was in the EU, but now have to prove that they previously did so. France says they should keep the same level of access, accusing Britain of breaching the Brexit trade deal.

Ms Giradin is said to have set the deadline in a meeting with Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice president leading post-Brexit trade talks, and Virginijus Sinkevicius, the commissioner responsible for fisheries.

She told them she was ‘preparing, with her colleagues from other ministries, response measures that France can implement from Nov 1, if necessary’, a source  told the Telegraph. 

France has tacitly threatened to throttle cross-Channel power supplies, as well as electricity for the Channel Islands, which have also restricted access to French boats.

Paris's maritime minister Annick Girardin has told the European Union that Boris Johnson's Government has until November 1 to reverse the post-Brexit tightening of access.

Paris’s maritime minister Annick Girardin has told the European Union that Boris Johnson’s Government has until November 1 to reverse the post-Brexit tightening of access.

French boats were free to fish in the six-to-12 mile zone when the UK was in the EU, but now have to prove that they previously did so.

French boats were free to fish in the six-to-12 mile zone when the UK was in the EU, but now have to prove that they previously did so.

Paris was infuriated when Jersey only granted licences to 12 small French boats out of 47 applications this summer – saying they had failed to provide evidence they were entitled. 

France also says it asked for 450 fishing licences for UK waters but had only received 275.

French boats were free to fish in the six-to-12 mile zone when the UK was in the EU, but now have to prove that they previously did so. France says they should keep the same level of access, accusing Britain of breaching the Brexit trade deal. 

At the weekend, French fishermen threatened a Channel blockade after the EU refused to back Emmanuel Macron’s demand for tough action against the UK. 

Last week other EU member states poured cold water on Mr Macron’s bid to get them to sign up on immediate retaliation, instead agreeing a watered down declaration calling for more ‘technical’ work.

Diplomatic relations between the countries have hit a low point recently - with French ministers even threatening to cut electricity supplies

Diplomatic relations between the countries have hit a low point recently – with French ministers even threatening to cut electricity supplies 

However, the French fleet is now warning they are ready to take matters into their own hands. 

Fishing rights were one of the key battlegrounds between Britain and France in their post-Brexit negotiations, and Mr Macron’s looming presidential election means he is under pressure to look tough.

Earlier this year, the dispute over licences led both France and Britain to send patrol vessels off the shores of Jersey, which is a self-governing British Crown Dependency. 

Britain says the majority of the vessels were denied access because they failed to provide evidence that they had fished in the six-to-12-mile nautical zone in the years before the UK’s referendum on leaving the EU.  

Jersey external relations minister Ian Gorst said the island’s government had taken ‘a pragmatic, reasonable and evidence-based approach’ to the issue.  

Diplomatic relations between the countries have hit a low point recently – with French ministers even threatening to cut electricity supplies.

Last month Boris Johnson told France to ‘prenez un grip’ and ‘donnez moi un break’ in the row about the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal that tore up a separate French contract. 



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