France to seek legal action against UK regarding fishing licenses

Paris will ask European Commission to initiate dispute procedure.

France to seek legal action against UK regarding fishing licenses

France threatened legal recourse against the UK to secure fishing licenses it believes it is entitled to the country, the government announced Friday. 

“We will ask the European Commission to initiate a legal procedure for the licenses to which we are entitled. This is the highest priority, the most important," said Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune, according to BFMTV news.

He also said in a tweet that apart from litigation, the government was mobilizing all the levers, including dialogue, financial support and long-term investments.

Beaune made the statement after a meeting chaired by President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee between the maritime ministry, fishing groups and elected officials from the coastal regions whose fishermen have been refused licenses.

After weeks of negotiations with Britain and the European Commission, France secured 23 new licenses last week.

But Paris insisted 60 additional licenses were due and it would continue to fight for the rights of fishermen.

Macron indicated that France was not willing to settle. “We will not let go of the subject,” he said in a tweet. He reposted a video of his speech from a November gathering where he opposed the post-Brexit trade agreement about the fishing clause.

Since Brexit, fishermen from the European Union are required to obtain a fresh license from the UK, by proving that they have traditionally fished in those waters before.

France and Britain are at odds about licenses in the English Channel, with Paris accusing the UK of denial of permits to French fishermen. France has made several threats of sanctions, tightening customs, prohibiting access to seaports and cutting the power supply to Jersey island if the UK fails to meet its demands.

Downing Street has maintained issuing the due licenses as per the agreement.

Hüseyin Demir