France issued a list of retaliatory tactics which could take effect shortly if there is a lack of sufficient progress in the ongoing fishing row. The threats from Paris, which range from cutting power supplies to banning British vessels from visiting French port, have been called “disappointing and disproportionate” with Government officials condemning France as failing to maintain the behaviour of a “close ally and partner”.
The UK has criticised France for escalating the fishing row, condemning “unjustified threats” from France and summoning the country’s ambassador.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is calling for talks later, asking Catherine Colonna to explain “disappointing and disproportionate threats”.
The move was made after a British fishing boat was detained in the waters off France on Wednesday as the nation vowed to continue to “defend” its fisherman amid the maritime spat.
French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin called the move “not war but this is a combat”.
The detainment of the boat came after France warned it could take steps to ban British fishing boats from disembarking at French ports if tensions are not resolved.
The vessel was handed to French authorities after the boat and another near the port at Le Havre were issued a warning.
Paris issued two verbal warnings to the British vessels fishing in the waters on Wednesday as tensions simmered between the two nations over post-Brexit arrangements.
The French maritime ministry said it issued warnings overnight to the two boats – one of which was re-directed to the French harbour.
The Ministry added the captain of the latter boat risked legal action and confiscation of his catch.
France’s European Minister Clement Beaune told CNews TV: “So now, we need to speak the language of strength since that seems to be the only thing this British government understands.”
The UK Government has condemned the response, claiming it could breach international law and calling the threats “disappointing and disproportionate”.
What revenge tactics could Paris enact amid the ongoing fishing spat?
France has threatened to take several measures to push for its desires in the ongoing fishing war.
The specific threats include:
- Preventing British fishing boats from disembarking at ports
- Increasing border and sanitary checks on UK goods
- Tightening security checks on British boats
- Increasing checks on trucks going to and from the UK
- Paris threatened to disrupt the UK energy supply chain.
Barrie Deas, from the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, the body representing fishermen in England, said a “tit for tat” relationship between the UK and France was “unhelpful”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said enforcement actions might be “normal” but they were “very concerning”.
Mr Deas said ongoing tensions and back and forth threats are unhelpful and would leave French boats “much more exposed”.
The ongoing tensions began last month after France’s anger rose by a British decision to deny fishing licences to dozens of French boats.
Paris argued the move was unfair and said it breached the Brexit agreement.
France has since threatened to block British vessels from some ports beginning next week if the post-Brexit fishing licences issues were not resolved by November 2.
The affected ports will likely be revealed next week according to Politico, but the controls should not apply to the Eurostar rail link between the UK and France.
The French Government said, “the French state will continue to support its fisheries industry” and expects answers from the UK “in the next few days”.
In response, Brexit Minister Lord David Frost said he was disappointed in France’s response.
In a statement, he said: “It is very disappointing that France has felt it necessary to make threats late this evening against the UK fishing industry and seemingly traders more broadly.
“As we have had no formal communication from the French government on this matter we will be seeking urgent clarification of their plans. We will consider what further action is necessary in that light.”
Paris repeated threats to disrupt the UK’s energy supply over fishing concerns.
The French Government said “a second series” of measures is “being prepared.”
The threat to cut electricity supplies to the British Crown dependency of Jersey was first made in May.
France supplies electricity to the UK and Jersey through undersea cables.
The nation also said it intends to adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards Britain.
The ongoing spat has come at a particularly uncomfortable time for the European Union as bloc officials are currently in London holding sensitive talks over the Northern Ireland Protocol.