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Brexit, a solution to the licensing knot for French fishermen is sought

Wednesday 3 November 2021-20: 17

Brexit, a solution to the licensing knot for French fishermen is sought

EU mediation; Frost goes to Paris tomorrow and Brussels on Friday

Brussels, 3 November. (askanews) – The row between France and the United Kingdom over post-Brexit fishing licenses, which London has partially rejected for French ships operating in British waters, is the subject of “technical discussions” between the two parties, organized by the European Commission, to try to find a solution.

The French Minister of State for European Affairs, Clément Bonn, and the British Minister of State for Brexit David Frost, will meet tomorrow in Paris to try to settle the matter. A meeting is also scheduled in Brussels on Friday between Frost himself and the commission’s vice president responsible for post-Brexit negotiations with London, Maros Sefcovic.

At the meeting in Brussels, which was formally organized to continue talks on the difficult implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal agreement from the European Union, the issue of fisheries could also be addressed. That is at least what French government spokesman Gabriel Attal made to him today, while the Commission, in its daily press conference today, refused to confirm this.

The post-Brexit agreement requires the UK to grant licenses to French fishing vessels that can prove they have operated in British territorial waters in the past. But the London government has so far granted only 1,013 of the 1,194 licenses requested by French fishermen. So the dispute relates to 81 of the rejected fishing licenses, most of which relate to coastal areas. France, which had threatened sanctions against the United Kingdom, decided on Monday to suspend their entry into force, trying again to find a solution to this week’s talks.

Commission spokesperson, Tim McBee, reported today that at the invitation of the EU Executive Director, “representatives of the United Kingdom, France, Jersey and the Commission itself have met for technical talks over the past two days” and that “talks continue today”. He added that these discussions “created a positive dynamic with the aim of finding a solution” and “a better understanding of the issues” at hand, which “should lead to progress. We hope that the positive commitment on the part of all will soon translate into tangible results.”

Regarding Friday’s meeting in Brussels between David Frost and Maros Sefcovic, “we are working hard to find common ground between our positions” on the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, he said. Today, another Brussels spokesman, Daniel Ferry, said. He added that this was based on what he described as “unprecedented” proposals, made by the Commission last month, to provide practical solutions to problems reported on the ground by Northern Irish operators and institutions.

But when asked if Frost and Sefkovic on Friday would touch upon the fishing dispute between France and the United Kingdom, the main spokesperson for the Commission, Eric Mammer, replied curtly that he “could not respond”.

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