On Monday, 14 EU states agreed to back France in signing a joint declaration criticising the UK’s approach to post-Brexit fishing licences. The move was decided at a meeting of EU farming and fisheries ministers in Luxembourg.
The statement read: “We call on the United Kingdom to provide a response as soon as possible and to engage in further technical work in accordance with the spirit and the letter of the Agreement.”
The document showed that Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands backed the French document.
Denmark, Malta, Lithuania and Latvia also gave their support, according to EU diplomats.
Last week, France issued an ultimatum to the UK over fishing rights.
French Minister of the Sea, Annick Girardin, met with French MPs and MEPs in Brussels to discuss further how to counteract the UK’s decision to deny post-Brexit fishing licences to French fishermen.
The French politician posted a full schedule of her revenge plan on Twitter, vowing to fight Britain on the issue at all costs.
According to her schedule, the countdown seems to have started on September 29, leaving Boris Johnson until Wednesday, October 13 to respond to the threat.
France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune also said it would “take European or national measures to exert pressure on the UK” after Paris became riled by a series of application rejections to fish in British waters.
French fury was sparked after the Government in London announced last month that it had approved just 12 of the 47 applications it had received from French small boats.
That anger was further stoked in a later announcement by the Jersey Government that of 170 licence applications it had received from French boats, 75 had been rejected.
Mr Beaune told French radio station Europe 1 that the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) agreed as part of the Brexit divorce deal should be “implemented fully”, threatening action if it was not.
Asked what retaliations could be taken, Mr Beaune pointed to both UK exports to France and European energy exports to the UK.
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He said: “The UK depends on our energy exports, they think they can live alone while also beating up on Europe and, given that it doesn’t work, they engage in aggressive one-upmanship.”
In response, the UK’s Brexit minister Lord David Frost has reminded France of the need to be “proportionate”.
Lord Frost accused France of being disingenuous over the UK’s position on fishing access.
He told a Conservative Party conference fringe event: “We have granted 98 percent of the licence applications from EU boats to fish in our waters according to the different criteria in the Trade and Co-operation Agreement, so we do not accept that we are not abiding by that agreement.
“We have been extremely generous and the French, focusing in on a small category of boats and claiming we have behaved unreasonably, I think is not really a fair reflection of the efforts we have made.”
The Cabinet minister conceded that Britain “would have liked a different sort of fisheries deal” in the Brexit deal but said the UK was striving to deliver on the agreed terms.
“We agreed this deal and we are implementing it in good faith, so I think it is unreasonable to suggest we are not,” he continued.
“If there is a reaction from France, they will have to persuade others in the EU to go along with it, and it does need to be proportionate.”