Fishing threats ‘going to cause a lot of harm’ says expert
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The French President has been told to drop his threats of retaliation against the UK completely and instead engage in “political dialogue” on the issue. Artus Galiay, the representative to the UK for the Hauts-de-France region that includes Calais, said Mr Macron’s rhetoric was “inappropriate and even dangerous”.
Paris had warned it could block British boats from landing their catches in French ports and tighten customs checks unless more fishing licences were issued.
The deadline was set to expire on Tuesday but Mr Macron extended it until Thursday.
Mr Galiay said the key to finding a breakthrough was “more talking and less showboating”.
He told Express.co.uk: “We want to make sure that this crisis is solved because it is in everyone’s interests.”
He added: “It requires not just political dialogue but also political goodwill.”
Mr Macron said he would hold off on implementing the sanctions against the UK while talks were carried out.
He told reporters at the UN Cop26 climate change summit on Monday that discussions “will continue” and there would be no retaliatory measures “while we’re negotiating”.
The French President gave Britain until Thursday to hand out more fishing licences to European vessels.
Urging the French government to rescind all deadlines and ultimatums, Mr Galiay said retaliatory action would have a devastating impact not just on the UK but on French citizens too.
“Their reaction has been really inappropriate and even dangerous for the very simple reason that the French-British border is extremely complex,” he said.
“You have five million lorries going to that border, close to a few hundred billion Euros in trade.
“Basically they’re threatening to jeopardise all that to make it less efficient is really risking jobs and the workers’ livelihoods, not just in our region but also France, and in Europe.
“So it is really totally inappropriate.”
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The official added the fact Mr Macron had suspended his threat was proof that he was either “chickening out because they have now realised the impact is too extreme” or that he was “conscious” of the damage when he made the threats and was “not actually willing to go that far”.
Also calling for the UK to do more on its part, he said: “Our position is very simple.
“We believe that our fishermen have the right to fish in UK waters because this is what is enshrined in the treaty between the UK and EU.”
In total Britain has issued 1,673 licences for the UK’s exclusive economic zone, with 120 issued for the six to 12-mile zone.
On Tuesday Downing Street said the UK would continue to issue licences as set out in the EU trade deal.
A spokesman said: “Our process remains the same.
“That’s based on the methodology that we’ve been clear with the Commission as per the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with regard to what evidence and data licences need to be supported by in order for licences to be granted.”
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