Eleven countries, including Belgium, signed a joint statement on Monday criticizing the UK’s response to the fishing licensing issue. France had called for the formation of a European front after the British decisions on those permits.
“The UK’s response to requests for fishing licenses is incomplete and inappropriate,” the French Ministry of the Sea said in a press release following the meeting of the European Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers in Luxembourg. The statement was signed by Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
The Brexit deal, signed at the end of last year between the UK and the EU, allows European fishermen to continue working in some British waters. They had to have a permit, as they had to prove that they had fished there before. But the French and the British are debating exactly what evidence to give.
London and Channel Island in Jersey have granted just over 200 final licenses in the respective fishing grounds (6-12 nautical miles off the British coast and the Channel Islands). France is claiming 244 others.
“This joint statement is an important step, because only through a collective response will the European Union be able to face the negotiations with our British partner in a calm manner,” French Navy Minister Annick Girardin said in a press release. Girardin also said that “European and French responses to the British proposals” would be announced later this month. She promised “possible revenge”.