The meeting promises to be intense. While Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron are due to see each other on Sunday, and London summoned French Ambassador Catherine Colonna on Friday, the tension between London and Paris rose further, Saturday, October 30, over fishing licenses that the British and the French are arguing about.
In a meeting with EU chief executive Ursula von der Leyen at the G20 summit in Rome, Boris Johnson complained about the threats “Completely unjustified” of Paris and has, according to Downing Street, part of its “Concerns about the rhetoric of the French government” on this flammable subject between France and the United Kingdom.
For his part, Ursula von der Leyen a tweeté that the Commission was “Intensely committed to finding solutions”. For the G20 family photo, Boris Johnson arrived greeting Emmanuel Macron in an overly combative manner, but the two men did not appear to speak to each other. They have to do it on Sunday one-on-one
Threats vs. Threats
France criticizes the United Kingdom for granting too few post-Brexit licenses to its fishermen. She promised lack of improvement to ban, as of Tuesday, British fishing vessels from unloading their cargo in French ports and to strengthen customs controls on trucks.
Far from subsiding before the G20, the tension rose again on Friday with the threat of London to implement “Rigorous controls” on European ships spawning in its waters, if Paris actually carries out its threats. The French president estimated in an interview with Financial Times that “Credibility” of the United Kingdom is at stake.
The post-Brexit agreement, concluded in extremis at the end of 2020 between London and Brussels, provides that European fishermen can continue to work in certain British waters under certain conditions. London claims to have granted 98% of applications for licenses for European Union (EU) vessels to fish in its waters, a figure disputed by France, which speaks of 90%.
Boris Johnson said on Saturday that he was ready to activate for the first time a conflict resolution tool provided for in post-Brexit agreements with the EU. “No, of course not, I do not exclude it”Mr Johnson told Sky News on the sidelines of the G20. “If there is a breach of the treaty or if we believe there is a breach of the treaty, then we will do what is necessary to protect British interests”. “But I believe that what everyone wants is cooperation between the European allies and Emmanuel Macron”, he added.
An “insignificant” stake compared to the climate
In a series of tweets, British Secretary of State for Brexit, David Frost, added, specifying that London is considering “Actively” initiate the dispute resolution procedure. He called on the European Union and France to renounce the “Rhetoric and actions that make the situation more difficult”, part of the” worry “ and the « surprise » of London in the face of the terms used by French Prime Minister Jean Castex in a letter to Ursula von der Leyen, which prompted a strong reaction in London.
In this letter revealed by Politico, the head of the French government believes that it is “Essential to clearly show to European public opinion that the respect of the commitments entered into is not negotiable and that there is more damage to leaving the European Union than to remain there”.
In this context, a British boat suspected of illegal fishing in French waters was still docked in Le Havre on Saturday awaiting the payment of 150,000 euros in deposit. Its captain is due to be tried next August.
Ahead of the opening of the COP26 on climate on Sunday in Glasgow, Boris Johnson said the conflict over fishing “Is frankly insignificant, incidental, compared to the threat against humanity we are facing”.
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Fishing licenses: before his meeting with Emmanuel Macron, Boris Johnson considers the French threats “completely unjustified”