France urged Tuesday a “rapid solution” to a fishing dispute with Britain that has threatened to degenerate into a full-blown trade war, after new talks aimed at breaking weeks of deadlock.
“France remains open to dialogue, but a rapid solution must be found for our fishermen, in line with the implementation of our agreements,” France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune wrote on Twitter after telephone talks with Britain’s Brexit minister, David Frost.
The conversation came after a crunch face-to-face meeting between the two men in Paris on Thursday on a dispute that has severely exacerbated tensions between the Channel neighbours in the wake of Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Beaune’s tweeted comment indicates that no breakthrough was found in the latest talks although dialogue is likely to continue.
France had threatened to ban British boats from unloading their catches at French ports and to subject all British imports to inspections.
President Emmanuel Macron said France would hold off imposing the measures to give dialogue a chance but French officials have insisted the all options remain on the table should dialogue fail.
Under a deal agreed by Britain and the EU late last year, European fishing vessels can continue to ply UK waters if they can prove they operated there in the past.
But Paris says dozens of French boats have had their applications to fish the UK’s rich waters rejected, an assessment strongly contested by London.
The total volumes affected are tiny in terms of overall France-UK bilateral trade.
But analysts say Macron is keen to take a hard line against Johnson as he eyes re-election in a 2022 poll while the British premier is also keen to talk tough in the wake of Brexit.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)