Brexit: Beaune says agreement must be ‘applied 100 percent’
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French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Tuesday that he was ready to ask EU counterparts to stand with France against Brexit Britain’s reluctance to grant fishing licences.
Paris is infuriated by London’s refusal to grant what it considers the full number of licenses due to French fishing boats to operate in Britain’s territorial waters, and is threatening retaliatory measures.
Mr Castex told parliament on Tuesday: “Britain does not respect its own signature.
“Month after month, the UK presents new conditions and delays giving permanent licenses…This cannot be tolerated.”
Mr Castex said France was going to bring the matter before a council composed of British and European representatives that oversee the implementation of the Brexit trade agreement and, if there is still no progress, would seek arbitration.
The move was lambasted by Frexiteer and leader of Les Patriotes Florian Philippot.
He blasted: “France forced to beg the European Commission to be ‘firmer’ on fishing against a UK perfectly free to do what it wants!
“How sad, inefficient, humiliating the absence of sovereignty!
France’s maritime minister Annick Girardin has said French fishermen should not be taken hostage by the British for political ends and that retaliation could involve energy supplies, educational exchanges, trade flows and rail links.
Britain says it has issued fishing licenses to vessels that have been able to demonstrate a track record of operating in its waters in the years running up to its withdrawal from the EU on January 31, 2020.
Britain has also said it is open to further discussion with the boats it had rejected, adding that they had not submitted evidence of their history of operating in the waters which was needed to continue fishing in the 6- to 12-nautical-mile zone.
Patience in Paris has worn thin over what French officials call Britain’s failure to honour its word since Brexit, over fishing and also London’s demand to renegotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol aimed at maintaining the integrity of the EU single market.
French trust was dented further when Britain joined the US and Australia in an Indo-Pacific security pact that resulted in Canberra cancelling a mega deal for French submarines.
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“We only ask that they respect their word,” Mr Castex told the National Assembly.
His address came after French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune also hinted that energy supplies could be disrupted in retaliation for a lack of access to UK waters, while fishing industry representatives have threatened a blockade of Calais to disrupt cross-Channel trade.
Mr Beaune told French radio station Europe 1 that the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) agreed as part of the Brexit divorce deal should be “implemented fully”, threatening action if it was not.
Asked what retaliations could be taken, Mr Beaune pointed to both UK exports to France and European energy exports to the UK.
He said: “The UK depends on our energy exports, they think they can live alone while also beating up on Europe and, given that it doesn’t work, they engage in aggressive one-upmanship.”
In response, UK’s Brexit minister Lord David Frost has reminded France of the need to be “proportionate”.
Lord Frost accused France of being disingenuous over the UK’s position on fishing access.
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