PARIS (AP) – French President Emmanuel Macron says the dispute between France and Britain over fishing rights is a test of the UK’s credibility in the world after Brexit.
France is angry about the restrictions on fishing licenses in British waters and says they are in breach of the agreement that the UK signed upon leaving the European Union. France has threatened to block British boats as of Tuesday and tighten controls on British vessels. In the UK, they say some French ships have to submit more paperwork.
Before meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this weekend, Macron defended France’s position in an interview with Financial Times and argued that a fisheries dispute could damage Britain’s reputation worldwide.
“Make no mistake, it applies not only to Europeans, but to all their partners. Because when you spend years negotiating a contract and then a few months later do the opposite of what was decided on the aspects that suit you the least, that’s not a big sign of your credibility, ”Macron said.
Macron said he was convinced Britain had “good will” to resolve the dispute. “We need to respect each other and respect the word that has been given,” he said, according to an FT report.
Johnson was trying to calm the stormy waters on Friday when he flew to Rome to the top of the G-20, where he is scheduled to meet Macron on Sunday.
“France is one of our best, oldest, closest allies, friends and partners,” he told reporters who traveled to the top. “The bonds that unite us, that connect us, are much stronger than the turbulence that currently exists in a relationship.”
But Johnson also reiterated Britain’s readiness to respond to any breaches of its separation agreement with the 27-nation EU.
France has also suggested that it could limit energy supplies to the Channel Islands – dependencies of the British Crown, which lie off the coast of France and are heavily dependent on French electricity.
Since the UK left the EU’s economic orbit in January, relations between London and Paris have become increasingly strained as nations on both sides of the English Channel make their way through Brexit.