France vows New Year battle over post-Brexit fishing rights

France vows New Year battle over post-Brexit fishing rights: Macron’s attack dog minister warns legal action over licences will launch ‘in the first days of January’

France today vowed to ramp up the battle over post-Brexit fishing rights as cross-Channel tensions escalate.

Europe minister Clement Beaune – known as an attack dog for Emmanuel Macron – warned that legal action over licences for French vessels to use British waters will begin in ‘the very first days of January’.     

The threat comes after months of wrangling over the number of boats given approval by the UK and Jersey authorities.

French fishermen claim that they are entitled to licences under the terms of the trade deal with the EU, and have staged repeated protests including blocking access to ports on the Continent.

However, Britain insists only boats that provide evidence they were using the waters before Brexit happened need to be given permission. 

Europe minister Clement Beaune – known as an attack dog for Emmanuel Macron – warned that legal action over licences for French vessels to use British waters will begin in ‘the very first days of January’

French fishermen claim that they are entitled to licences under the terms of the trade deal with the EU, and have staged repeated protests including blocking access to ports on the Continent (file picture)

The dispute has not subsided despite a number of extra licences being granted to French boats over recent weeks.

And Mr Beaune told France 2 television today that he expects an EU meeting on January 4 to step up the response.

He said litigation at a special tribunal put in place by the Brexit deal will start in ‘the very first days of January’.

Earlier this week it emerged that French fleets had abandoned a threat to blockade Christmas goods from reaching the UK because they wanted a holiday.  

Industry bosses said many skippers take time off for the festive period so they scrapped their long-standing plan to punish Britain this week by blockading ports and the Channel Tunnel.

‘The protest won’t happen during the festive period. It’s on standby. We will look at it again at the start of January,’ said Olivier Lepretre, chairman of northern France fisheries committee.

‘Some of the fishermen wanted to act on the 23rd and the others wanted to protest on the 4th after the holidays. It divided people straight away.’

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