Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune said France is considering litigation proceedings against the United Kingdom over the remaining post-Brexit fishing licenses still pending to be awarded in the island of Jersey. The UK/French licenses dispute at the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, off the French coast, has been ongoing for weeks.
If the British don't respect the agreement, they won't be able to access freely to our market in the future, Beaune said. [Starting on] January 4, we will meet with European commissioners to define the procedure and the measures we need to take.
France is still requesting some sixty fishing licenses to allow French boats to fish in U.K. waters after Brexit — 7% of the remaining fishing licenses France says it is entitled to according to the Brexit trade deal.
Fishing licenses have been the main point of contention between the two countries for months, with France accusing Britain of not granting all the authorizations agreed under the deal, and the U.K. alleging some French vessels lack the proper paper work required to qualify for a license.
After Paris threatened with EU legal action and retaliation, Britain issued 23 additional licenses on December 13, adding up to the 93% of fishing licenses obtained by France.
However the bilateral dispute has not prevented the European Union and UK to reach an overall agreement on how to divide up fish stocks they jointly manage. Under the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement, TCA,EU and U.K. must negotiate total allowable catches (TACs) in the stocks they share in the Atlantic and the North Sea, on an annual basis.
After two months of discussions, the European Council announced it had approved a deal between the EU and the U.K. for 2022, including TACs for around 65 jointly-managed stocks and provisions for the overfishing of non-quota stocks. This is the second post-Brexit agreement on catch limits.
“Thanks to goodwill and a constructive approach on both sides, we were able to reach an agreement that provides certainty for EU fishermen and women going forward,” said Jože Podgoršek, Slovenia’s agriculture minister, whose country holds the rotatory EU presidency until January 1.
In a statement, the European Commission said the agreement “creates certainty for fishing communities in both the EU and the U.K., cements the sustainable use of marine living resources and establishes a strong basis for continued EU-U.K. cooperation in the area of fisheries.”