A first gesture. The United Kingdom has granted 23 additional licenses to French fishermen, a British government spokesperson announced on Saturday (December 11th), the day after a deadline set by Paris to resolve the post-Brexit fishing rights dispute.
“Last night, after receiving additional supporting evidence from the European Commission, the UK granted 18 licenses to replacement vessels.” replacing boats previously fishing in British waters, while the Channel Island of Jersey for its part approved five new licenses on Saturday, said the spokesperson.
Under the agreement signed at the end of 2020 between London and Brussels, European fishermen can continue to work in British waters provided they can prove that they were fishing there before. But for more than eleven months, the French and the British have been arguing over the nature and extent of the supporting documents to be provided. France obtained 1,004 post-Brexit fishing licenses and in “still waiting 104”, according to the French Ministry of the Sea.
After threatening to go to litigation if no progress was recorded during the day of Friday, France had said to wait “a gesture of good will” from London to continue discussions. If London “stick to its position, we will ask the European Commission, over the weekend, to announce that a dispute is underway”, had reaffirmed the French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune.
Corn “if the British today say: ‘We are giving a few dozen more licenses’ [pour les pêcheurs français] as a gesture of good will (…), we will take it into account (…) and perhaps we will continue “ to dialogue, he immediately added.
On the French Channel coast, fishermen are at the end of their patience, claiming to have provided “all required documents”. The tone has already been raised on several occasions: a blockade of Jersey by French fishermen last May; French threats of sanctions in October; and, more recently, the blocking by French fishermen of the Channel Tunnel’s ports and freight terminal.