A rainbow appears as British trawler Cornelis Gert Jan is seen moored in the port of Le Havre, after being seized last week fishing in the French territorial waters without licence, in Le Havre, France, November 2, 2021. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

EU And UK Making Progress In Post-Brexit Fishing Dispute

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December 11, 2021

By Nikos Chrysoloras and John Follain (Bloomberg) — The U.K. has issued additional fishing licenses for European Union boats, in a step that may signal some progress toward resolving the post-Brexit dispute in which the two sides are engulfed. 

“Today’s decision is an important step in a long process seeking full implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement,” the European Commission said in a statement on Saturday, after the U.K. agreed to issue 18 licenses for EU replacement vessels in its territorial waters and 5 licenses for EU vessels to access Jersey waters. 

The deal followed “several weeks of intensive technical discussions on licensing,” according to a British government statement. 

French officials said in a statement that, in total, 1,034 licenses have been obtained for French fishermen, or 93% of total requests. 

Ties between Britain and the EU have been strained since the U.K. left the bloc, with the allies engaged in disagreements ranging from fishing licenses to trade rules in Northern Ireland. The French government has threatened retaliatory trade action against London over a lack of licenses issued to its boats to fish in British waters.

Tensions between the U.K. and the EU over Northern Ireland also appear to have calmed in recent weeks, with the U.K. saying it will continue negotiating for as long as talks continue to be constructive. Many in the EU had feared that Britain was going to imminently walk away from the negotiations, which could have precipitated a trade war.

It’s unclear whether the fishing deal struck on Saturday marks the end of the row over fishing though. While the U.K. government said in its statement that the intensive part of the talks is over for now, the EU said that “a number of vessels seeking access to waters have not yet received a license,” and that technical negotiations will continue with the aim to have 7 additional replacement vessels approved by the end of Monday. 

Talks will resume next week. 

French fishermen blocked access to ports in northern France last month to try to heap pressure on the U.K. over the issue. They also jammed the ramp leading to the freight tunnel between Britain and France near Calais.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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