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Brexit: France releases list of sanctions if UK withholds fishing licences

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: French fishermen repair their nets at Boulogne-sur-Mer, northern France

PARIS (Reuters) -France released a list of sanctions that could come into effect from Nov. 2 unless enough progress is made in its post-Brexit fishing row with Britain, and said it was working on a second round of sanctions that could affect power supplies to the UK.

The British government said the "threats are disappointing and disproportionate" and would be seeking urgent clarification before considering action in response.

France could step up border and sanitary checks on goods from Britain, prevent British fishing boats from accessing designated French ports and beef up checks on trucks coming from and going to the UK, the Maritime and European Affairs Ministries said in a joint statement.

"A second round of measures is being prepared. France is not ruling out reviewing its power supply to the UK," the statement said.

French fishermen lack half the licences they need to fish in British waters and which Paris says are owed them after Brexit, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said earlier in the day.

Attal had said France was drawing up a list of sanctions that it could make public as early as Thursday. Some of them would come into effect early next week unless enough progress had been made, he added.

"Our patience is reaching its limits," said Attal, who had highlighted that France's supply of electricity to Britain could be one of the measures.

French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune separately told a French parliamentary hearing that France could step up border checks on goods from Britain if the situation regarding the fishing licences did not improve.

"Our objective is not to impose these measures, it is to get the licences," Beaune added.

A British government spokesperson said it would relay concerns to the EU Commission and French government.

"France’s threats are disappointing and disproportionate, and not what we would expect from a close ally and partner."

"The measures being threatened do not appear to be compatible with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) and wider international law, and, if carried through, will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response."

Brexit minister David Frost said there had been no formal communication from the French government on the matter.

The dispute centres on the issuance of licences to fish in territorial waters six to 12 nautical miles off Britain's shores, as well as in the seas off the coast of Jersey, a Crown Dependency in the Channel.

Tensions caused both France and Britain to dispatch maritime vessels off the shores of Jersey earlier this year.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta;Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Costas Pitas in London and Dominique Vidalon in ParisEditing by Richard Lough, Barbara Lewis, William Maclean, Sandra Maler and Sonya Hepinstall)

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