UK threatens checks on EU fishing boats


The United Kingdom threatened on Friday to launch dispute settlement proceedings, and checks on EU fishing activity in its territorial waters, if France implements sanctions against Britain on November 2.

A British government spokesperson made the announcement after the country’s Brexit Minister David Frost met with European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic in London. As well as the fishing dispute between Britain and France, the pair held talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The spokesperson explained that Frost had laid out Britain’s concerns about the “unjustified measures” announced by France earlier this week. These include fears that the measures will disrupt British fisheries and other trade, threaten energy supplies, and block further cooperation between Britain and the EU, Xinhua news agency reported.

Post-Brexit access to British waters has prompted tension between Britain and France. France seized a British trawler and gave a warning to another boat on Thursday morning, following threats of retaliatory measures against Britain’s fishing industry and other trade.

Although Britain-EU talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol have been constructive for the second week running, substantial differences remain between the two parties, the spokesperson said, adding, “The EU’s proposals represent a welcome step forward but do not free up goods movements between Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the extent necessary for a durable solution.”

The two parties will meet again in Brussels next week.


Britain and the EU view changing the protocol as a long-term solution to post-Brexit trade disruption in Northern Ireland. Britain outlined its proposals in a government paper in July, which observers interpreted as a renegotiation of the protocol.

In response, the EU published its own package to facilitate the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, including cutting customs formalities, simplified certification, and an 80 percent reduction of checks on retail goods for Northern Ireland’s consumers.

It said it would guarantee an uninterrupted supply of medicine to the people of Northern Ireland, by changing EU rules.

However, the two sides remain poles apart on the more challenging issue of the oversight role of the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland.

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