November 27, 2021

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Without ruling out reprisals, Johnson is trying to smooth things over with France

by Elizabeth Piper

ROME (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday he could not rule out trade sanctions against France next week, amid a conflict between the two countries over fishing.

Boris Johnson, who is hosting a UN climate summit next week, insisted he did not want this row with Paris to jeopardize the G20 summit in Rome, which is seen as a springboard to get more commitments for COP26 Glasgow. .

Britain’s exit from the European Union last year exacerbated tensions in its relations with France, and negotiations over fishing rights, with limited economic impact, had previously been long and difficult, with even Great Britain not leaving the bloc.

Emmanuel Macron took a new step on Friday in this struggle by questioning the “credibility” of Great Britain and accusing him of wanting to amend certain parts of a treaty signed last year, notably on fishing rights.

“If there is a breach of the treaty or if we think there is a feature, we will do what is necessary to protect British interests,” Boris Johnson told Sky News on Saturday from Rome, where he is attending the G20 summit.

When asked whether he would rule out retaliatory measures next week under the so-called Trade and Cooperation Agreement, he replied: “No, of course, I do not rule out this possibility.”

“But I think everyone wants to see cooperation between European allies, and I (French President) Emmanuel Macron share a common perspective, knowing that climate change is a disaster for humanity and that we have the tools to tackle it,” he added. .

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Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson are expected to hold an informal meeting this weekend on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

France has long accused the UK of giving its fishermen an insufficient number of licenses to access British waters in light of the commitments London made to the European Union in its Brexit agreements.

Paris ended up announcing on Wednesday a first set of retaliatory measures that will go into effect on November 2.

A British fishing vessel has been frozen in Le Havre since Thursday for fishing, according to France, without a permit in national waters. (Report by Elizabeth Piper and Michael Holden, French version by Jean-Michel Plott)