UK-France fish spat deepens despite Macron-Johnson meeting – .

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UK-France fish spat deepens despite Macron-Johnson meeting – .


French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met privately on Sunday to try to resolve a growing dispute over Channel fisheries – but subsequently the two countries appeared further apart than ever and gave very different versions of the outcome of the meeting.
The post-Brexit dispute over the licensing of fishing in British coastal waters threatens to escalate within days into a damaging French blockade of British boats.

After the 30-minute meeting between Macron and Johnson on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Rome, a senior French official said the two leaders agreed that it was necessary to speak to each other “in a situation of significant tensions ”. He said action should be taken “as soon as possible” to achieve de-escalation.

Britain, however, denied that the leaders had agreed to take action to defuse the spat, saying it was entirely up to France to calm the waters.

The UK government said in a statement that during the meeting Johnson “reiterated his deep concern” over France’s rhetoric and “expressed hope that the French government is defusing itself.”

Johnson spokesman Max Blain said “our position has not changed”.

“It will be up to the French to decide if they want to walk away from the threats they have been making in recent days,” Blain said.

“Both in our rhetoric and in our actions, we have in no way sought to escalate this. … The de-escalation should come from the French side.

Fishing is a small industry economically, but one which occupies an important symbolic place for maritime nations like Great Britain and France. Britain’s exit from the economic rules of the 27-nation bloc earlier this year means the UK now controls who fishes in its waters.

France claims that some vessels have been refused fishing permits in waters where they have been sailing for a long time. Britain claims to have granted 98% of requests from EU ships, and now the dispute boils down to a few dozen French ships with insufficient papers.

But French European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune on Sunday accused Britain of “targeting” France in a “political choice” and said Britain had violated the Brexit deal agreed to by the two. parts.

“For the whole of the EU, around 90% of the expected licenses have been granted, but all the missing licenses are French,” he tweeted.

Macron stressed to Johnson the need to “honor the commitments” made by the UK and the European Union under the Brexit deal, the French presidency said in a statement.

“We have made specific requests concerning the licenses to be granted to a specific number of vessels” concerning British waters and the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, added the French official. “We expect them to play by the rules of the game.”

He said France and Britain would have talks “in the hours and days to come” on practical details, with the aim “of easing tensions and stabilizing the situation”.

France has threatened to ban British ships from its ports and to tighten controls on ships and trucks if licenses are not granted by Tuesday.

The official declined to say whether France is still ready to apply the sanctions.

“We are not there yet,” he said. He spoke anonymously in accordance with the practices of the French presidency.

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