Macrons fishing stance backfires: EU members could force France into humiliating U-turn

France's actions amidst fishing row questioned by Kilcoyne

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Emmanuel Macron is “hurting France” by escalating the war of words with the UK, according to one political expert. Matt Kilcoyne, director at the Initiative for Free Trade, told France24 that the French threat of “gumming up Calais and creating more checks” would backfire on President Macron. He suggested that the French leader could inadvertently punish other EU member-states and allies, particularly Ireland, if he continues his defiant stance on fishing.

The UK has been embroiled in a bitter dispute with France over post-Brexit fishing rights.

The row escalated this week when France threatened sanctions unless more licences were granted.

Mr Kilcoyne explained that France could face a revolt among EU member-states if it does not back down.

He said: “If France decides to create checks, and gum up Calais, that will hurt themselves.

“It is a very silly response to something that is an internal matter for Guernsey and Jersey.

“It will also hurt Ireland, the people they are so keen to protect.”

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He continued: “You can put some things through Dublin, and Cork, and Wexford, but a large amount of traffic goes east to west, across the Channel.

“If they create checks and gum things up, they will increase costs for their member-states.

“So, is the EU about increasing the living standards of its member-states and its citizens, or is it about geopolitics?”

On Monday, the French President postponed trade sanctions he planned against Britain over the licensing dispute so that both sides could work on new proposals.

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The measures threatened by France include increased border and sanitary checks on goods coming from Britain and banning British vessels from some French ports.

However, the threat of a trade war remains as the UK mulls over whether to trigger Article 16.

Article 16 is the means by which either the UK or the EU can suspend the Northern Ireland Protocol, the mechanism agreed by both sides to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.


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It is thought that once COP26 is out of the way, Downing Street will make its move.

The EU has pledged to retaliate if Article 16 is invoked, with the entire Brexit agreement at risk of unravelling.

Former Conservative PM John Major weighed into the controversy on Saturday, claiming any move to trigger Article 16 would damage relations with the European Union and United States and could further destabilise Northern Ireland.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it would be colossally stupid to do that.”

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