EU panic: French fishermen 'very scared' as Brexit trade talks stall

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    Government sources claim that the EU’s approach to trade talks has resulted in “paralysis”.Brexit negotiations have stalled over two key issues – fisheries and regulatory alignment.Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to fulfil a Leave campaign promise that the UK will take back control of its waters post-Brexit.Previously, EU vessels had free access to British fishing grounds, leaving many fishermen in the UK aggrieved.

    However, the EU’s chief negotiator – Michel Barnier – has warned Mr Johnson he cannot secure access to European markets without allowing EU vessels into UK waters.

    The stalemate comes as the EU desperately tries to keep access to UK fishing grounds, but this could ultimately lead to a no deal scenario.

    This was a big fear for French fishermen, as one admitted he was “very scared” at the prospect of talks between Brussels and London ending with no agreement.

    Jerome Vicquelin, a fisherman from the Normandy coast – said in an interview that he hopes an arrangement can be made, as his business like many others in Europe needs UK waters.

    He said: “We are scared because UK waters represent 40-60 percent of our revenue.

    “So for us, it would be catastrophic, it would be unimaginable.”

    He warned however that the UK’s fishermen would also endure hardship.

    Mr Vicquelin continued: “The UK exports nearly 70 percent of its fish to the EU.

    “If we get to December 31 and they throw us out of their waters, then we will block our ports, stop the ferries, no British boats will reach French soil.”

    Mr Vicquelin made the defiant statement in an interview with Al Jazeera in July.

    French and British fishermen have clashed before, in August 2018 in the English Channel when French fishing boats tried to prevent several British fishing vessels from catching sea scallops off the Normandy coast.

    READ MORE: EU tried to ‘wipe out UK fishing industry’ in Brexit talks

    France is one of many nations dependent on British fishing grounds.

    Between 2012-2016 for example, France caught 120,000 tonnes of fish worth £171million, according to Marine Management Organisation figures.

    In February, French President Emmanuel Macron promised he would “fight” for his country’s fishermen during Brexit trade talks.

    He said: “I want to tell our fishermen that I will fight for them. If we do not get the same access as today, we will seek compensation.

    “I will not let our fishermen pay for a British vote they could do nothing about.”



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