Macron says France ‘will not give in’ in post-Brexit fisheries with Britain

A trawler sails off the fishing port of Granville, France, on November 3, 2021. REUTERS / Stephane Mahe

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  • Britain and France disagree on fishing rights
  • Disputes have increased the strain on the relationship since Brexit
  • The leaders of both countries are under pressure not to give ground

AULNOYE-AMERIES, France, November 19 (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday accused Britain of playing with his country’s nerves in a post-Brexit dispute over fishing rights, saying France “will not give in” .

He renewed criticism of Britain in the dispute, which has damaged relations between the two countries, after France said it was still waiting for 150 licenses to be issued to French vessels to fish in British waters.

“We did not get what we wanted. They are playing with our nerves,” Macron told reporters during a visit to Aulnoye-Ameries in northern France. “We will not give in.”

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Relations between traditional allies Paris and London have become increasingly strained since Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016.

At the heart of the series is fisheries, an issue that has haunted Brexit negotiations for years, not because of its economic significance, but because of its political significance for both leaders.

Paris says London should have issued more French boats with licenses to fish in British territorial waters since Britain left the EU. Britain says they respect the arrangements agreed. Read more

The dispute concerns the issuance of licenses to fish in territorial waters six to 12 nautical miles off the coast of Great Britain and in the seas off the Channel Island of Jersey.

Maritime Minister Annick Girardin said earlier Friday that France will “continue to fight every day to get what should be ours and so the 150 licenses arrive”.

The voltage is flared repeatedly in the row. France briefly seized a British fishing boat in its waters in October, and both countries sent maritime vessels to waters off the Channel Island of Jersey earlier this year. Read more

Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson briefly discussed the dispute in Rome on October 31, but there was not much to suggest that the dispute would be resolved.

Both leaders face domestic pressure to stand firm.

Macron made his remarks on Friday after Conservative Xavier Bertrand, a potential opponent in next year’s presidential election, called on him to do more to defend the interests of French fishermen.

The far-right politician Marine Le Pen, another likely presidential candidate, wrote on Twitter: “Stand for the British, Emmanuel Macron has capitulated before he even started the fight.”

Girardin also faces criticism. Rival politicians have said that a proposal she made on Thursday that the government could offer financial compensation to French fishermen who lose showed that France was ready to give up the fight.

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Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Elizabeth Pineau, Dominique Vidalon; Editing Clarence Fernandez and Timothy Heritage

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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