Brussels has told the French government to calm its rhetoric over a fishing row with the UK, after Paris threatened to turn off power to the Channel Islands this week.
The EU, and individual European governments, have reportedly told Emmanuel Macron’s government that the threats to shut off power to Jersey and Guernsey or to hit the UK with tariffs cannot happen.
French European affairs minister Clement Beaune said on Tuesday that “we are tired of being nice” and that he “will not stand” for French fishermen being locked out of UK waters by Downing Street.
Speaking to the Europe 1 broadcaster, Beaune said that Paris was ready to retaliate and noted that the Channel Islands Jersey and Guernsey rely on France for their power supplies.
The row is over the UK government’s refusal to grant many licences for French fishermen that were a part of the post-Brexit UK-EU trade deal.
This has infuriated Paris and the country’s fishermen that rely on British waters.
EU sources told The Telegraph today some Brussels officials were angry that the French government were so aggressive with their threats and did not discuss them beforehand with Brussels.
An EU source said: “We need to cool the temperature of the water. We need to sit down and talk amicably. It’s very warm water at the moment and that doesn’t help anyone.”
Cabinet Office minister Lord David Frost said the reaction was over the top and that it “is not how we should behave”.
“For all the frustrations of the last 18 months, and particularly since January, I don’t think we as a country have resorted to those sort of threats,” he said.
The issue of fishing access was a huge area of contention during negotiations over the UK-EU trade deal last year.
The issue sparked up again May when a flotilla of around 50 French fishing boats blocked the Jersey harbour in opposition to the UK not granting new fishing licences.
The stand-off led to UK and French military vessels being deployed to the area.
The UK government last week said it would only grant 12 of 47 new fishing licences for small EU boats, once again bringing the row back to the fore in Anglo-French relations.