France fishing row: Expert calls on EU to 'sort' issue
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Artus Galiay, the representative to the UK for the Hauts-de-France region that includes Calais, accused Mr Macron of only kicking up a fuss because he was facing a presidential election. He told Express.co.uk many fisheries in France have felt abandoned by Paris since the end of the EU transition period.
Mr Galiay said: “The French government really is trying to use this crisis for political gain.
“We believe they haven’t defended our interests.
“The French government promised those licences would be provided and the minister for European affairs on January 1 said licences would be granted in just a matter of days.”
Accusing Mr Macron and his ministers of inaction, he said: “It’s taken them almost 11 months to start really showing that they actually care.
“We would say their reaction has been over the top and dangerous.
“And the fact it has taken them 11 months as we’re now approaching a presidential election really shows the political angle to it.”
Mr Macron has threatened to impose sanctions on the UK unless more licences are issued for French vessels.
He has warned he is ready to block UK boats from French ports and impose much stricter customs checks to slow down trade.
The actions would have a devastating impact on supply chains in the run-up to Christmas.
Britain says it has issued 98 percent of all licences.
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It says it will continue to grant access to its waters for applications that are submitted with the correct paperwork.
Vessels must be able to prove they have fished at least one day a year for the four years of 2012-16 in order to be given a licence.
Mr Macron on Monday suspended his threat of sanctions until tomorrow to hold discussions with the UK.
Mr Galiay has now said it is time for France to withdraw its threats completely in order to help the talks.
He said it was time for “more talking and less showboating”.
Criticising the Paris government for not looking to engage in discussions earlier, he added: “The fact that there’s not been political dialogue is really unfortunate because it has stopped anyone from moving on from these really important topics.”
French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said discussions with the UK has been “constructive”.
He told radio station Europe 1: “I spoke to my counterpart yesterday evening. The spirit is a constructive one on this topic.”
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