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Easing on fishing for French boats follows talks

BRUSSELS (China Daily/ANN) -- Britain has granted another 23 licenses to French fishers, a government spokesperson said on Saturday, a day after a deadline set by Paris to resolve a post-Brexit battle over fishing rights.
The European Union had set London a Friday deadline to grant licenses to dozens of French fishing boats under a Brexit deal signed last year, with Paris threatening European legal action if no breakthrough emerged.

French fishermen on their trawler attend an action to block the port of Calais during a day of protests to mark their anger over the issue of post-Brexit fishing licenses, in Calais, France.

The licenses were agreed on Friday night after British officials met European Union counterparts and followed what the spokesman called an “evidence-based approach” ensuring vessels qualify to work in UK waters.
The approach “provides stability and ensures the sustainability of our fisheries”, with the United Kingdom granting 18 licenses and the Channel Island of Jersey five, the spokesperson said.
The EU hailed the agreement as “an important step in a long process” toward implementing the 2020 Brexit agreement and said work continued to license seven more vessels by Monday.
But France said it would “continue to work” to obtain more licenses it insists its fishing fleet is entitled to.
France had previously said 104 of its boats still lacked licenses to operate in British and Channel Island waters that should have been granted under the Brexit agreement.
With the 23 permits granted on Saturday, France is still seeking 81 approvals having received 1,027 in total so far.
Work continues
Under the deal, EU fishers can continue to work in British waters if they can prove they used to fish there.
France’s Fisheries Minister Annick Girardin and European Minister Clement Beaune said: “This work has accelerated in recent days.”
In a joint statement they said: “France and the EU continue to work together to ensure the full application of the trade and cooperation agreement.”
France had threatened to lodge a complaint with the European Commission over the dispute.
That could have resulted in the EU imposing financial penalties or even tariffs on British goods if Britain was judged to be reneging on its commitments.
More than 80 vessels have received licenses since the EU attempted to intensify negotiations over outstanding applications late last month, the EU said.
French fishers last month disrupted cross-Channel ferry and freight traffic in protest at the post-Brexit arrangements and consequent loss of trade.
Half a dozen fishing boats blocked access to ferries at the northern port of Calais and the port of Ouistreham in Normandy, to the west.
The EU and Britain are also at loggerheads over checks on products entering the British province of Northern Ireland after the UK government unilaterally postponed the introduction of checks.

(Latest Update December 7, 2021)

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