France will ask the European Commission to launch legal action against the UK unless Britain agrees to provide “a few dozen” licenses to French fishermen today, Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune said.
Admitting that the UK will not be able to provide all the licenses that France is requesting by Friday’s deadline, set for Britain by the EU, he said that if the British say, tonight, “we are providing a few dozen licenses as a gesture of goodwill to show that the dialogue is bearing fruit,” France will “take that into account”.
If the UK sticks to its current position and does not change criteria for issuing licenses, France is prepared to take measures, Beaune told radio station France Info.
“We’ll ask the European Commission to announce during the weekend opening of the litigation process with the Brits,” he said.
Beaune underlined that judicial procedure would involve not only “papers and courts” but also “custom measures that could be taken by Europe as a whole.”
Tensions between the UK and France have arisen over claims by French fishermen that the UK is withholding a significant number of licenses and is therefore violating its post-Brexit agreements. London denies the accusations, saying not all the fishermen have provided proper quota data. French fishermen demonstrated their frustration by temporary blocking several key ports on November 26.