EU's ambassador to UK rebukes France over Jersey fishing threat
EU’s ambassador to the UK rebukes Emmanuel Macron over French threat to cut power supply to Jersey over fishing dispute as he calls for both sides to ‘de-dramatise’ post-Brexit rows
- Joao Vale de Almeida said Brexit disputes must be resolved through formal talks
- He said EU ‘did not start well’ when asked about the Jersey fishing rights dispute
- France threatened in May to cut Jersey’s electricity supply over access to waters
- Mr Vale de Almeida urged both sides to ‘further de-dramatise this relationship’
The EU’s ambassador to the UK today delivered a rebuke to Emmanuel Macron after France threatened to cut off Jersey’s electricity supply in a row over fishing rights.
João Vale de Almeida, the bloc’s representative in London, said all post-Brexit disputes must be resolved through the formal mechanisms set out in the divorce and trade deals.
He said the flashpoint over Jersey last month was an example of ‘where we did not start well’ and that ‘we should aim at going back to the normal procedures’.
He told peers on the European Affairs Committee that both Britain and the bloc have a ‘collective responsibility to further de-dramatise this relationship’.
Emmanuel Macron faced criticism after his ministers threatened to cut off power to Jersey in a row over post-Brexit fishing rights
The row centred around French fishermen saying they were being prevented from operating in British waters because of difficulties in obtaining licences. French vessels are pictured off the coast of Jersey on May 6
France threatened to cut off Jersey’s power at the start of May as tensions exploded because of a row over fishing rights.
French maritime minister Annick Girardin had suggested Paris would cut off electricity to the island if the dispute was not resolved.
Jersey gets 95 per cent of its power supply from France via an underground cable.
Boris Johnson responded to the threat by sending two Royal Navy gunships to the area amid fears a fleet of 100 fishing boats from the continent could try to block access to the port at St Helier.
The row centred around French fishermen saying they were being prevented from operating in British waters because of difficulties in obtaining licences.
Tensions cooled in the weeks that followed and Mr Vale de Almeida was asked this morning how he believes disputes like the one relating to Jersey should be resolved.
He replied: ‘I think the methodology overall is for us to use the instruments we created, the bodies we set up within the Withdrawal Agreement, the joint committees, specialised committees within the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, a number of committees and working groups.
‘It is quite a complex governance structure we realise but it is the one that will allow us to address the issues in a consensual way, in a cooperative way.
‘We want to avoid unilateral measures and as we know we have some differences of view on that with the British government.
‘So if I go back to the fishing rights I think it is a good example where we did not start well and that we should aim at going back to the normal procedures.
‘But I am encouraged by what I have seen in the recent weeks because the EU and the UK have found an agreement on total allowable catch for 2021 a couple of weeks ago.’
Mr Vale de Almeida said both sides need to work on cooling post-Brexit tensions amid a rumbling row over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
‘I look forward to a lowering of temperature of the public discourse about this relationship and I am not thinking of anyone in particular,’ he said.
‘I think it is a collective responsibility to further de-dramatise this relationship and look at concrete answers to concrete problems within the terms of the agreements we made.’
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