Brexit minister Lord Frost warns Britain is “actively considering” legal battle with France amid fisheries

Brexit minister Lord Frost has revealed that Britain is “actively considering” triggering a legal battle with France in the midst of an escalating dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights.

Earlier this week, Paris threatened to impose increased controls on British boats from its ports and a ban on imports of seafood unless the issue of licenses for small French vessels to fish in British waters is resolved by Tuesday.

Ministers have warned of retaliation if France continues with the proposed sanctions, and Boris Johnson did not rule out the prospect of triggering a legal battle with the country – suggesting sending the dispute to independent arbitration – in a series of G20 interviews. summit in Rome this weekend.

The post-Brexit trade agreement includes a dispute settlement mechanism that makes it possible to refer controversies to an independent body if they cannot be resolved through diplomacy and direct talks.

To move on, Lord Frost wrote in a series of tweets: “These threats, if implemented on 2 November, would bring the EU into conflict with its obligations under our trade agreement.

“So we are actively considering initiating a dispute settlement procedure as described in Article 738 of the TCA [Trade and Cooperation Agreement]”.

The conservative peer added that Britain would “continue to speak constructively” to resolve the dispute, but also called on Paris to “step back from rhetoric and actions that make this more difficult”.

The minister’s remarks followed a letter from Jean Castex, the French prime minister, urging the EU to back the ranks and use the “handles it has at its disposal” to push in the need for “compliance” with the Brexit fisheries agreement. .

In correspondence with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, Mr Castex also suggested that it should be made clear “to leave [European] Union is more harmful than staying there, ”he said BBC.

In response to the remarks, Lord Frost said he was “concerned and surprised”, adding: “I do not hope this opinion is more widespread in the EU.

“Seeing it expressed in this way is clearly very worrying and very problematic in the current context as we try to resolve many very sensitive issues, including on the Northern Ireland Protocol.”

He continued: “This is all the more so as the threats that France has made this week to our fishing industry, to energy supply and to future cooperation, for example through the Horizon research program, are unfortunately part of a pattern that has lasted a lot this year, among other things. “

Emmanuel Macron, the French president, also suggested that Britain’s reliability as a partner was at stake, and said Financial Times: Make no mistake, it is not just Europeans but all their partners.

British embassy officials arrive at Scottish trawler detained at Le Havre harbor in northern France

(AFP via Getty Images)

“Because when you spend years negotiating a treaty and then a few months later doing the opposite of what was decided, on the aspects that suit you the least, it’s not a big sign of your credibility.”

After a meeting with Mrs von der Leyen on Saturday, Downing Street said the Prime Minister “raised his concerns over the rhetoric of the French government in recent days over the issue of fishing licenses”.

A 10-year-old spokesman added: “The Prime Minister emphasized that the French threats are completely unjustified and do not appear to be compatible with the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement or broader international law.

“The Prime Minister reiterated that the UK has granted 98 per cent of license applications from EU vessels to fish in UK waters and is pleased to consider further evidence for the remaining 2 per cent.”

Johnson is also expected to hold a brief meeting with Macron on the sidelines of the G20 summit on Sunday.

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