Brexit: France prepares sanctions which could affect UK power supplies over fishing dispute

France is preparing possible sanctions against the UK, which could affect the country’s power supplies, over issues with fishing licences.

France’s government has claimed its country’s fishermen lack half the licences they require to fish in British waters, and they are owed them after Brexit.

France protested the decision last month by the UK and the Channel Island of Jersey to refuse dozens of French fishing boats licences to operate in their territorial waters.

The country considers the restrictions as contrary to the post-Brexit agreement that the British government signed when it left the European Union.

Officials said that they are working on possible sanctions against the UK, which could be made public as early as Thursday and imposed as soon as next week, unless enough progress is made on the issue.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal highlighted that France’s supply of electricity to Britain could be one of the measures that could come into effect if “there is no change in policy”.

He added: “There are several types of sanctions possible, including tariffs on energy, on the access to ports, on customs, and other measures are possible.”

He said there are two sets of key measures being considered, the first could apply from 2 November for several days and will concern “imported goods unloaded in France”.

The second set will be “energy measures such as electricity supply for the Channel Islands”.

Under the Brexit trade deal, which came into force on 1 January, EU fishermen continue to have some rights to fish in UK waters as part of a transition period until 2026.

Analysis by Adam Parsons, Europe correspondent

However, under the new rules, EU boats wanting to fish within 12 miles of the UK coast need to be licensed and prove they have a history of fishing in those waters in order to carry on operating.

This includes submitting evidence of their past fishing activities.

France currently claims its fishermen are lacking around 50% of the licences they are entitled to.

Asked about the situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: “It is important to stress that
98% of fishing licences have been granted.

“We continue to work with the French government on granting more based on the evidence they provide, as you know a number of additional licences have been granted in recent weeks.

“We will continue to have discussions with them on that point.”

France’s European affairs minister, Clement Beaune, separately told a French parliamentary hearing that the country could step up border checks on goods from Britain if the situation regarding the fishing licences did not improve.

“Our objective is not to impose these measures, it is to get the licences,” Mr Beaune added.

The dispute centres on the issuance of licences to fish in territorial waters six to 12 nautical miles off Britain’s shores, as well as in the seas off the coast of Jersey, a Crown Dependency in the Channel.

Tensions over the situation caused both France and Britain to dispatch maritime vessels off the shores of Jersey earlier this year.

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