France will reduce electricity supply to Jersey this winter, Paris warns, unless fishermen granted licences for British waters

France will reduce electricity supply to Jersey this winter, Paris warns, unless fishermen granted licences for British waters

France’s European affairs minister has claimed Britain is failing with Brexit, but French fishermen must not pay for the UK’s misfortune as he demanded more fishing licences for gallic trawlers and warned of electricity cuts.

Speaking on Friday, outspoken French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said his government would hold firm against Britain and continue to demand more fishing licences.

The European minister said that France may be forced to cut electricity, although not totally, to the Channel Island of Jersey – a self-governing dependency of the United Kingdom – during the winter as part of a “targeted” retaliation in the fishing dispute. 

Focusing on the UK, Beaune told BFM TV that “They failed on Brexit. It was a bad choice.” He contended that French fishermen must not pay for Brexit and said that France would withhold turkey at Christmas.  

“We will hold firm. The Brits need us to sell their products,” he added. 

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French fishermen gather in a net on their vessel near the port of Saint Helier off the British island of Jersey. © Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP
French fishermen threaten to block port of Calais to stop exports into UK ahead of Christmas period over fishing licence row

Prime Minister Jean Castex has already warned that France would review bilateral cooperation with London unless the UK granted French fishermen all the licences they demand in British waters. French fishermen have also threatened to block the gateway port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel rail link unless more licences are granted in the next 17 days.

“As far as French fishermen in northern France are concerned, in the absence of any results, the blocking of the port of Calais and exports to the United Kingdom for the period leading up to Christmas is an option,” said Olivier Lepretre, the president of the fishing committee for the northern Hauts-de-France region, on Wednesday. 

Reducing the number of European fishing vessels in British waters was an important component of the Brexit movement. While the UK is looking to see its owning fishing industry grow as European vessels slowly lose access under the Brexit agreement, many have called for an overall reduction of trawler activity to allow fishing stocks to recover.

Non-profit organization Oceana has reported that six of the top 10 most economically important fish stocks for the UK are overfished or their stock biomass is at a critical level. Similar reports have raised questions about the effectiveness of the EU’s fisheries policy which governed Britain’s fish-rich waters until Brexit. 

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