French fishermen will block ferry traffic to three Channel ports and the flow of goods through the tunnel between France and the UK on Friday to protest post-Brexit fishing rights, a union said.
Calling the action a “wake-up call”, the president of the French National Fisheries Committee (CNPMEM), Gérard Romiti, said ferry traffic would be blocked in the ports of Saint-Malo, Ouistreham and Calais as well as the freight traffic in the Channel Tunnel for several hours.
The months-long dispute between Britain and France over the number of licenses granted to French ships remains unresolved and threatens to turn into a full-scale trade war.
“We don’t want freebies, we just want our licenses back,” Romiti said. “The UK must respect the post-Brexit deal. Too many fishermen are still in the dark.
“We have been looking forward to it for 11 months. The patience of professionals has limits. We hope that this warning shot will be heard, ”he said, refusing to rule out other actions in the future.
France had threatened to prohibit British ships from landing their catches in French ports and to subject all British imports to inspections.
At the time, President Emmanuel Macron said France would refrain from imposing measures to give dialogue a chance, but French officials insisted that all options remain on the table.
Discussions between French Minister for Europe Clément Beaune and British Brexit Minister David Frost have not yet concluded.
The British government said it was “disappointed” by the threat of a blockade.
“It will be up to the French to ensure that there are no illegal actions and that trade is not affected,” a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday.
Growing London-Paris varieties
Under an agreement between Britain and the EU at the end of last year, European fishing vessels can continue to sail in British waters if they can prove that they operated there in the past.
But Paris says dozens of French boats have seen their requests to fish in rich UK waters rejected, an assessment strongly contested by London.
The total volumes affected are tiny compared to bilateral trade between France and the United Kingdom.
But the issue has contributed to increased post-Brexit tensions between London and Paris, whose relationship will now also be strained by their response to Wednesday’s Channel disaster that claimed the lives of 27 people.
(AXADLETM with AFP)