UK-France fishing tensions to end soon; EU officials

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The EU’s fishing commissioner said in an interview on Sunday that the post-Brexit dispute between France and Britain over the fishing rights of French boats is about to be resolved after months of talks.

Virginijus Sinkevicius, European Commissioner, asserted that France had acquired most of the licenses that the owners had requested for the French vessels to fish in British waters, with only 70 licenses unsettled.

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Further, he added that the commission had backed France in the dispute; they were highly interested in continuing to build a successful and constructive relationship with the British government.

The European Commission did not immediately confirm the information nor provide further details. But a representative at France’s sea ministry said that “there isn’t any particular update on the issue” to give.

As part of the Brexit deal setting out EU-British relations following Britain’s departure from the European Union two years ago, the U.K. agreed to allow French vessels to continue to operate in the British and Channel Island waters they had plied for centuries.

While Britain granted nearly 1,700 licenses to EU boats to fish in waters 12-200 nautical miles from the coast, France imposed an impractical burden of proof for French vessels seeking to operate in the fish-rich zone 6-12 nautical miles offshore.

License applications for 150 vessels were initially rejected for waters around Britain and Jersey.

The commission lent its legal service’s weight to the French application service, while French fishers threatened to blockade French ports and the Channel Tunnel if they did not get more licenses.

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EU-U.K. relations remain relatively tense in several areas, particularly over the issue of Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom that London agreed could stay in the customs zone of the EU — though it has since sought to water down that status.

 

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