France, Great Britain agree to continue discussions on fisheries

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France and Britain agreed on Thursday to step up efforts to resolve a fisheries dispute, but much remains to be done and all options are on the table if negotiations fail, the French Minister of Affairs said. Europeans, Clément Beaune.

Beaune was speaking after meeting UK Brexit Minister David Frost in Paris, days after France and Britain were on the brink of a cross-Channel trade war for fisheries.

At the heart of the dispute is the number of permits granted by London to French ships following Great Britain’s exit from the European Union. France says many are missing, while London says it is respecting the deal.

Thursday’s meeting was “useful and positive”, with further discussions scheduled for next week, Beaune said, welcoming a new “state of mind” in the relationship and adding that he had agreed with Frost to intensify licensing discussions.

France had threatened to tighten controls on trucks and products from Great Britain and to ban British trawlers from French ports. But he pulled out at the last minute on Monday to allow for another attempt to negotiate a solution.

“All options are still on the table,” Beaune said, adding: “as long as dialogue seems possible … we give it a chance, without naivety … and with a demand to see results.”

“There is still a lot of work to be done,” he said, adding that France was still short of around 200 fishing licenses.

Britain echoed some of Beaune’s comments on Thursday, with both sides saying ministers would talk to each other early next week.

“As announced, they discussed the range of difficulties resulting from the implementation of the agreements between the UK and the EU. Both sides set out their positions and concerns,” a government spokesperson said. British.

After a meeting that lasted about an hour and a half, Beaune and Frost shook hands on the steps of the ministry, smiling and chatting in front of the television cameras. Beaune also posted a photo of the two hands shaking in front of the British, French and European flags.

Frost will meet with European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic in Brussels on Friday, the British spokesman said.

Britain and France have been fighting for decades over access to fishing grounds around their Channel coasts, an issue that also hampered years of Brexit negotiations before Britain finalized its withdrawal end of 2020.

The latest dispute erupted in September over the number of post-Brexit fishing licenses. France seized a British scallop dredge, which has since been released.

The reaffirmation of British control over its fishing grounds was a central part of the Brexit dossier that Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented to British voters. The issue is also sensitive for French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of next year’s presidential election.

(REUTERS)

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