France postpones fishing row sanctions on Britain

LONDON/GLASGOW (REUTERS, AFP) –  French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday (Nov 1) he was postponing by one day planned trade sanctions on Britain so that negotiators from both sides could work on new proposals to defuse their dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights.

Britain welcomed the pause and Brexit  Minister David Frost said he has agreed to meet French Europe Minister Clement Beaune.

France had earlier said that, starting from 2300 GMT on Monday  (7am, Tuesday, Singapore time), it would restrict cross-Channel trade, threatening to turn bickering over fish into a wider trade dispute between two of Europe’s biggest economies.

But Mr Macron, who earlier on Monday met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, told reporters the French plan was on hold pending the outcome of renewed talks.

“I look forward to our talks in Paris on Thursday,” Mr Frost tweeted.

In a statement, a UK government spokesman added: “We welcome the French government’s announcement that they will not go ahead with implementing their proposed measures as planned tomorrow.

“As we have said consistently, we are ready to continue intensive discussions on fisheries, including considering any new evidence to support the remaining license applications,” the spokesman said.

“We welcome France’s acknowledgement that in-depth discussions are needed to resolve the range of difficulties in the UK/EU relationship.”

Earlier on Monday, Britain gave France 48 hours to back down from the threat of sanctions or face legal action under the Brexit trade deal.

The measures threatened by France include increased border and sanitary checks on goods from Britain and banning British vessels from some French ports, steps that have the potential to snarl cross-Channel trade.

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