The dispute over fishing rights after Brexit led to fierce allegations and threats between France and Great Britain on Thursday. Previously, the government in Paris had locked a British cutter without a valid license in the port city of Le Havre. The fisherman faces a fine and the confiscation of his catch. A second boat received a warning for fishing in French waters without a permit. "Unfortunately, the British government only understands the language of hardship," said European Secretary of State Clément Beaune on the television channel CNews. From November 2nd, British fishing boats will no longer be allowed to land their catch in France for further processing. In addition, France will systematically review the safety precautions on British boats. The government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced on Wednesday evening.“Our patience has limits,” said Attal. "We will not allow the UK to use the Brexit treaty like a doormat," said the government spokesman.

Michaela Wiegel

Political correspondent based in Paris.

  • Follow I follow

Jochen Buchsteiner

Political correspondent in London.

  • Follow I follow

Trucks on the way to Great Britain should also be more strictly controlled from now on. The supply blockade could also be extended to the power supply, it was said in Paris. The Anglo-Norman Islands get their electricity from mainland France. "It's not a war, but it's a fight," said Fisheries Minister Annick Girardin. London accused Paris on Thursday of a breach of international law and announced that it would retaliate further punitive measures. "The threats from France are disappointing and inappropriate," said a government spokeswoman in London. “It is not what we expect from a close partner and ally.” The measures, it said, “do not appear to be compatible” with the Brexit agreement or with “other international law”.Should Paris continue with its actions, an "appropriate and calibrated response" can be expected.

Deliberate escalation before presidential election?

The National Association of Fisheries Organizations in London was “concerned” on Thursday and warned of a “how-you-me-so-me-you” procedure.

"France seems determined to escalate this matter and we have to wonder why," said a BBC spokesman.

He gave himself the answer: "France is facing presidential elections, and everything indicates that the rhetoric will be ramped up before that." The spokesman pointed out that the French fleets fished far more in British waters than the British in French waters, which is why the neighbors had more to lose.

The government in London assures that 98 percent of all fishing applications from the EU have been approved. Refusals would only have been made to fishing boats that could not have proven their authorization as defined in the Brexit Treaty. This was called "wrong" in Paris. In truth, only 90.3 percent of the licenses were granted - "and of course the missing ten percent concern the French". There had already been an escalation off the Channel Island of Jersey last May when hundreds of French fishermen held protests there with their boats and the British Navy sent two armed patrol boats. Negotiations between the countries then began.

The background to the French escalation strategy is the bitterness in Paris over the role of Great Britain in the new security alliance for the Pacific, AUKUS, which became known in September.

In Paris it is said that both the American President and the Australian Prime Minister have sought dialogue since then.

In London, however, they are happy to have betrayed Paris.

In Great Britain, on the other hand, the French President Emmanuel Macron is seen as a bitter opponent of Brexit, which has been deliberately damaging London's already difficult relationship with the EU for years.

Keywords: