LORIENT, France, Oct 28, 2021 (AFP) – France is ready to hold talks with Britain to resolve a deepening dispute over fishing rights as long as London meets its obligations under post-Brexit agreements, Prime Minister Jean Castex said Thursday.
France has threatened to disrupt trade with Britain from next week if its boats are not granted more access to British waters, in particular those surrounding the Channel island of Jersey.
But Castex said during a visit to Brittany that his country was “always open to talks, morning, noon and night”, so long as Britain “honours its commitments”.
On Wednesday, France fined two British fishing vessels during checks, with Maritime Minister Annick Girardin saying they were made against “the backdrop of the tightening of controls in the Channel, in the context of discussions on licenses with the United Kingdom and the European Commission”.
Also on Wednesday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal told reporters that measures targeting British fish exports from November 2 would include “systematic customs and sanitary checks on products brought to France and a ban on landing seafood”.
Castex’s statement came shortly after Britain’s Environment Secretary George Eustice told parliament on Thursday that it was important to “de-escalate” the standoff with France.
France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune, meanwhile, told CNews TV that “now we have to speak the language of force, because I fear that unfortunately that’s the only language this British government understands.”