Emmanuel Macron has raised tensions with Britain by warning that the dispute over fishing rights is a test of the UK’s global credibility.
The French president spoke ahead of the G20 summit in Rome, which lays the groundwork for the COP26 climate summit.
France and the UK are involved in a dispute over fishing rights and post-Brexit licenses for French vessels.
Mr. Macron he told the Financial Times that backing off in the UK on Brexit commitments “is not a great sign of … credibility”.
He was referring to the fishing line and the disputes over Northern Ireland.
Macron said: “Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just for Europeans but for all of their partners.
“Because when you spend years negotiating a treaty and then a few months later you do the opposite of what has been decided on the aspects that suit you least, it’s not a great sign of your credibility.”
The discussion, which began when the UK and Jersey denied fishing licenses to dozens of French boats last month, is essentially about how many French vessels can fish in UK waters.
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France said it could prevent British ships from disembarking in its ports if the licensing dispute is not resolved.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he feared the EU-UK trade agreement may have been breached.
He added that the UK government will do “whatever is necessary to secure UK interests”.
Meanwhile, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says she saw a letter that appears to show French Prime Minister Jean Castex calling on the EU to show that “it is more harmful to leave the EU than to stay”.
By Damian Grammaticas
At the core it is a question of whether a few dozen small French boats are licensed for the waters around Jersey based on their fishing history in the area.
It is a glitch and should be relatively easy to deal with.
The fact that it has escalated so that the French President and the British Prime Minister are considering tells us a lot.
Brexit meant renegotiating old agreements.
There is not yet a new balance, but many opportunities for friction. Access to fishing waters is particularly exciting for both sides.
Macron stressed that he sees fishing alongside the Northern Ireland Protocol as issues that go to the heart of the UK’s “credibility”, suggesting that the UK is not honoring the agreements it has made.
And France in particular is ready to take revenge if its interests are threatened.
Boris Johnson, saying he is “puzzled” by France’s irritation, does not seem to want things to get worse because of fishing.
But will the UK grant more licenses? The tensions are clear. And it all comes just as the UK and the EU have to agree on the much bigger and more difficult issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
France was angered by the UK and Jersey’s decision last month to deny fishing licenses to French boats, claiming it was a breach of the Brexit deal.
The country has therefore warned that next week it will prevent British boats from landing their catch in some French ports and will step up checks on British boats and trucks if the dispute is not resolved by Tuesday.
On Friday morning, Environment Secretary George Eustice said the UK would respond if needed, saying “two can play that game”.
The government also said it is considering initiating “dispute resolution procedures” with the EU if France proceeds with “unwarranted measures”.
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