Neither image nor joint declaration, the tête-à-tête between Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson was eagerly awaited Sunday, October 31, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome. It must be said that, in recent days, the dispute over fishing has once again strained relations that have been somewhat adrift since Brexit, ten months ago.
Against the backdrop of a showdown over fishing licenses, the French president tried to initiate a form of ” de-escalation “ with the head of the British government. It is “Lower tensions and stabilize the situation”, we let know at the Elysee after the interview. Discussions, it was agreed, should continue in the coming days between representatives of the two countries. It remains to be seen whether a truce is really likely to emerge. “It is up to the French government to promote de-escalation by withdrawing its threats”, immediately retorted the spokesperson for Boris Johnson.
The climate therefore remains electric. Moreover, Sunday morning, the French head of state was very clear during the half hour of the interview, described as simple ” work meeting “. He asked “Requirement, seriousness and respect” to his interlocutor, after a few days when reproaches and warnings rocketed between the two shores of the Channel. Mr Macron is waiting for the British Prime Minister “Respect his signature and take his commitments seriously”, as negotiated with forceps before the country left the European Union. This concerns first of all fishing, in the eyes of Paris, but also the Northern Irish protocol, which provides for controls in the Irish Sea between the province and the rest of Great Britain. A compromise that the Conservative government has not applied to this day.
London denounces “unjustified” threats
The urgency of the moment is, of course, to try to calm the conflict over fishing. For lack of obtaining more licenses for the benefit of its fishermen, Paris has threatened in recent days to take retaliatory measures in order to complicate the activity of British vessels in French waters, or even to reduce supplies to the Anglo-Islands. Normans in electricity.
For London, the threats of French reprisals are “Unjustified” : since Brexit, European fleets must acquire fishing licenses to continue fishing in British waters, in particular the 6 to 12 nautical mile zone off the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands. In particular, small boats must prove that they fished in these waters between 2017 and 2020, under the terms of the post-Brexit trade agreement.
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Post-Brexit fishing: Macron and Johnson explain themselves and differ on a possible “de-escalation”