New talks await in the fisheries dispute
Talks replace confrontation as France and Britain try to resolve the recent fishing dispute. New discussions are expected next week.
Britain’s Brexit Minister David Frost was in Paris on Thursday to talk to France’s EU minister Clément Beaune.
A British statement afterwards suggests no breakthrough in the conflict – but still a step forward compared to the sharp rhetoric of recent weeks.
“They discussed the scale of difficulties that emerged during the implementation of the agreements between the UK and the EU. Both sides put forward their views and concerns,” a statement from a British government spokesman said, while promising new talks “early next week”.
The dispute concerns licences to French boats to fish in British waters following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. France believes that the British have given too few licenses and far too slowly. The government in Paris has therefore threatened increased controls on British boats and even a halt to electricity supplies to the neighbouring country, creating considerable anger in London.
However, the French measures have been postponed until further notice, while France has also released a British fishing boat that has been held in Le Havre for a week, accused of fishing without a permit.
“It was a good decision that could reduce tensions. French justice is free from political pressure,” the fisherman’s lawyer Mathieu Croix told AFP news agency.