French ambassador set for talks over fishing rights row with British ministers
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France's ambassador to Britain is expected to hold talks on Friday with top British politicians in an effort to calm the row between the two countries over post-Brexit fishing rights.
Catherine Colonna is expected to meet Britain's Europe Minister, Wendy Morton, at the Foreign Office in London a day after French naval police escorted a trawler from the Baie de Seine to the north-western port of Le Havre.
Checks on the Cornelis Gert Jan found that it did not have the correct papers.
On Friday, the boat's skipper was charged for fishing without permission in French waters. He will appear in the city's criminal court next August.
France is angry that some of its boats have not been granted licences to fish in British waters since Britain withdrew from the European Union on 31 December, 2020.
On Thursday France's Europe Minister Clement Beaune said his country had to become more belligerent in order to prompt Britain into action.
French ministers also threatened more customs checks from Tuesday on all products brought to France, and a ban on landing seafood.
Meanwhile Minister of the Sea, Annick Girardin, on Thursday said the retaliatory measures needed "to defend the rights of French fishermen" did not reflect "a war" but rather a "combat".
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- France prepares sanctions as fishing dispute with UK deepens
An agreement was signed and must be enforced, she told RTL.
Meanwhile the UK sought to soften the tone of the row. A statement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office said: "We regret the confrontational language that has been consistently used by the French government on this issue, which makes this situation no easier to resolve.
"We have raised our concerns strongly with both the French and the EU Commission."
Johnson's office said the proposed French actions were unjustified and do not appear to be compatible on the EU's part with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement or wider international law.
"We repeat that the government has granted 98 percent of licence applications from EU vessels to fish in the UK's waters and, as has consistently been made clear, will consider any further evidence on the remainder," the statement said.
The dispute between London and Paris concerns a specific area of six to 12 nautical miles off the Jersey and English coasts.
The British government had promised to renew the licences of French trawlers that had been fishing in this specific area in the prelude to Brexit provided that they could give proof.
It is understood some 210 permanent licences have been granted. However, French crews claim 200 more.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said he was ready for talks with Britain, but insisted that London honour its post-Brexit commitments. Johnson and the French president, Emmanuel Macron, are likely to meet on the fringes of the G20 summit in Rome to discuss the row.
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