Upping the ante on the fishery row, French Prime Minister Jean Castex in a letter has asked the EU to show Britain there will be consequences of its “uncooperative attitude” for failing to comply with a post-Brexit fishing agreement, according to Politico.
The letter was sent to Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission’s president, on Oct. 28, the report said.
Castex has urged von der Leyen to demonstrate to the UK that "leaving the (European) Union is more damaging than remaining in it."
"The UK's uncooperative attitude today is at risk not only to cause significant harm" to the EU, Castex warned, but also sets a negative precedent on the bloc’s “credibility” and commitments to uphold international agreements.
He said it was pertinent for the EU to show its “total determination” to implement the Trade and Cooperation Agreement signed by the UK in the post-Brexit period “by using the levers of its disposition in a firm and proportionate manner.”
“It is essential to show clearly to the European public that compliance with the commitments is not negotiable and there is more damage to leaving the Union than staying there,” Castex wrote.
The French prime minister has asked for a meeting of the EU-UK partnership council, in charge of overseeing the post-Brexit trade deal at the beginning of November. If the meeting fails to conclude in a “satisfactory solution” on the subject of fishing, he has recommended invoking reprisals “proportionate to the economic and social damage resulting from alleged breaches.”
Disagreements over fishing rights in the Channel waters have emerged as the most contentious issue between the two neighbors post-Brexit. It has led to a heated war of words between French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the G7 conference in June. The dispute is likely to dominate the ongoing G20 summit in Rome after Macron this week raised questions on Britain’s “credibility” for failing to comply with the agreements of the treaty it spent years negotiating on.
This is the second letter by Castex to von der Leyen, appealing to the regional bloc since September to urgently step up pressure on the UK for preventing French shipping vessels from fishing in its waters.
The letter came after the French government on Wednesday took action against two British trawlers, with one of them detained for fishing without licenses. It has also announced retaliatory measures in the form of increased customs and sanitary checks on products brought to France and a ban on landing seafood if the UK continues to delay in issuing fishing permits to the French fishers.
Paris has claimed, despite continuous negotiations and dialogue, the UK has issued a limited number of licenses than what the French fishers are entitled to. Contrary to the terms of the fishing agreement, so far it has authorized 103 licenses for the 6-12-mile zone, 113 licenses for Jersey, zero licenses for Guernsey.