Emmanuel Macron has been knocked down after his calls for EU members to unite against the UK in the post-Brexit fishing license battle fell on deaf ears.
Countries such as Germany, Spain and Italy condemned a French government statement released over the weekend targeting Britain for “unsatisfactory behavior” in its “clear non-compliance with the terms” of the Brexit trade deal.
Britain has refused to grant all fishing licenses French boats have applied for as part of a post-Brexit access deal, angering Paris and worrying fishermen for their livelihoods.
But other EU member states refused to get caught up in France’s attack, advising instead that “further technical work” needed to be done to reach a mutually acceptable deal.
EU member states’ disapproval of Macron’s aggressive tactics comes just days after Brussels accused Emmanuel Macron of arming the EU for his own interests by encouraging the European bloc to cut Britain’s access to energy markets and impose trade tariffs as part of ‘retaliation’ .
Sources in Brussels said the EU commission, which negotiates on behalf of the bloc, has told France to “cool the waters” and stop making threats so that an “amicable” solution can be found.
Emmanuel Macron has been knocked down after his calls for EU members to unite against the UK in the post-Brexit fishing license battle fell on deaf ears. The states refused to get caught up in France’s attack, instead advising that “further technical work” should be carried out to reach a mutually acceptable deal
Emmanuel Macron has been slammed by Brussels over French threats to UK amid post-Brexit dispute over fishing rights and accused by diplomats of ‘instrumentalizing’ the EU for national interests
The UK has rejected the canal licenses saying the French boats cannot provide geolocation data to prove they have fished in the regions before and could therefore try to take advantage of fishing in new area
Jersey has so far refused licenses for 75 French vessels, while the UK has rejected applications from 35 small boats seeking permission to fish between six and 12 miles off the British coast.
The UK rejected the canal permits saying the French boats cannot provide geolocation data to prove they used to fish in the regions, and could therefore try to take advantage of fishing in new territory.
The European Commission has so far not intervened in the spat between France and Britain, but rejected Macron’s suggestion that Britain was acting in an unacceptable manner and encouraged the two sides to work together to reach a settlement.
France last week reiterated the threat that it could cut power to the Channel Islands, which lie close to the French coast and depend on France for their electricity.
The threat was “disproportionate” and “unacceptable” and in violation of Britain’s post-Brexit treaty with the European Union, said Jersey’s foreign relations minister Ian Gorst.
Jersey said Thursday that France is unlikely to act on the threat to cut electricity as it would deprive 108,000 islanders of power, as well as Jersey’s hospital and schools.
“I therefore don’t believe it will happen,” Jersey’s Secretary of State for Foreign Relations, Ian Gorst, told reporters via video link.
But if France does carry out the threat, “we do have emergency measures,” he said.
France has threatened ‘retaliation’ after its fishing fleets (pictured) failed to obtain permits, urging the EU to limit UK access to energy and impose trade tariffs
Jersey has so far refused licenses for 75 French vessels, while the UK has rejected applications from 35 small boats seeking permission to fish between six and 12 miles off the British coast (Photo: A French fishing boat protesting refusal of fishing licenses by Jersey)
Paris had demanded that all licenses be reinstated or the UK would suffer the consequences, with more details to be revealed later this month.
But the Commission has taken a softer approach and wants to conduct a full investigation into the dispute before deciding whether to respond, insiders said.
Diplomats are believed to be negotiating ‘boat by boat’ with Britain to see which ones should be allowed access.
Speak with The Telegraphsaid a source: ‘Once again France is instrumentalising the EU for national interests.’
France has accused Britain of violating the post-Brexit trade deal by denying licenses to fishermen who have traditionally fished in British waters.
But London says permits have only been denied to boats where skippers were unable to provide proof of their traditional lands.
France counters, saying that such evidence was not mentioned in the agreement and that smaller fishing vessels are not equipped with the kind of technology that allows them to prove where they have sailed in the past.
The issue sparked a stalemate in the waters off Jersey earlier this year when French seas minister Annick Giradin threatened to cut off electricity to the island.
The fighting was renewed last week when Britain granted 12 licenses to a fleet of 47 boats that had applied to fish in an area six to 12 nautical miles off the British coast.
The issue is particularly important to Emmanuel Macron at the moment as he heads for an election he risks losing to challengers from the far right.
Fishing is only a small part of the economies of both the UK and France, but is seen as a symbolic issue for two nations that once conquered large parts of the world thanks to their maritime prowess.
France has threatened to proceed with a package of ‘retaliatory’ measures to be unveiled later this month if the problem is not resolved.
Little is known about the measures being considered, but Jean-Pierre Pont – a MP for Macron’s En Marche party – has suggested it should include a threat to break a key migration pact, the Touquet Treaty.
The 2003 agreement effectively extended the British border into French soil, allowing it to set up checkpoints to stop migrants before they reach the UK, where they can apply for asylum.
Breaking the agreement would mean significantly more migrants landing on British shores.
If firm action is not taken, Mr Pont warned, outraged fishermen will take the law into their own hands by blocking British ports and the Channel Tunnel.
An MP has proposed tearing up a migration treaty with the UK, meaning asylum seekers on French soil could be stopped (pictured) unless more permits are granted
Olivier Lepretre, head of Northern France’s powerful fisheries commission, said: “If the negotiations fail, we will prevent all French and European products from reaching the UK and all British products not reaching Europe.”
‘Unless Boris’ [Johnson] declines, the British won’t have so much goodies to eat this Christmas. I hope it doesn’t come to that.’
On Thursday, he said London has only “two weeks” to take action or the blockade would begin.
Britain and France have already clashed in recent months over an agreement with Australian submarines, the EU’s attempt to block life-saving jabs in the UK and the Northern Ireland protocol.
Former Minister Theresa Villiers said: ‘This is an unacceptable attempt at bullying. Ministers must be firm.’
Senior Tory MP David Jones urged Macron to “water down the rhetoric” adding: “Recourse to gangsterism, which in fact this is, can never be justified.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the differences with Britain were widening and that it was up to London to come up with ideas to improve relations. “The ball is in their court,” he added.