French fishermen threaten to block Channel Tunnel over post-Brexit fishing dispute


French fishermen are threatening to block the Channel Tunnel in protest over a dispute on fishing rights, which was sparked after the UK left the EU.

Downing Street has said it is “disappointed” by the threat and called on French authorities to ensure no laws are broken during demonstrations, which are planned to take place at the tunnel and at the Port of Calais on Friday.


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Trawlermen in the north of France are angry that the UK has not granted more of them licences to fish in British waters under the terms of the post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

Relations between France and the UK sank to new lows recently over the fishing dispute, with authorities seizing a British vessel and charging its skipper after claiming it was fishing in French illegally.

Charges against the fisherman were eventually dropped as both sides sought to ease tensions, with French authorities agreeing that the vessel indeed had the appropriate licences.

At one point the two neighbour nations seemed to be on the verge of a full-scale trade war, with France threatening to block British products from being imported and Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying he would retaliate with “appropriate action” if his counterparts followed through.

French fishermen plan to block the Channel Tunnel on Friday. Credit: PA

For almost a month it seemed the dispute had gone away after talks were held between government negotiators from both sides – but a statement from the French National Committee for Maritime Fisheries and Marine Farming showed the battle is far from over.

It announced there would be “symbolic and non-violent” action to defend their “just and legitimate demands” and to prevent “British obstruction”.

They said they would block the Port of Calais between 11am and 12.30pm, and the tunnel from 1pm to 3pm, with action also planned at Saint-Malo and Ouistreham.

A No 10 spokesperson said: “We are disappointed by threats of protest activity.

“It will be a matter for the French to ensure that there are no illegal actions and that trade is not affected. We continue to monitor the situation closely.”

The spokesperson said the UK authorities are continuing to consider licence applications under the terms of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) – Britain’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

“We have issued nearly 1,700 EU vessels overall with fishing licences and we continue to abide by the TCA and work with fishermen if they have any further evidence they wish to submit as part of their application,” the spokesperson said.

They added that there are contingency measures in place to in case of disruption.



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