Over a fishing dispute with France, the United Kingdom has threatened to use the EU Dispute Tool.
On Saturday, UK Prime Official Boris Johnson told EU chief Ursula von der Leyen that French fishing threats were “totally wrong,” while a British minister warned London was “seriously considering” using a Brexit dispute tool for the first time.
Von Der Leyen, for one, tweeted that the European Commission was “intensively engaging for finding solutions” on the fishing dispute as well as a separate battle with Brussels over the execution of their divorce pact in Northern Ireland.
A British boat has been arrested in a French port, and Paris’ ambassador in London has been summoned to the Foreign Office for a treatment normally reserved for enemies, not allies, in the simmering fish dispute.
Johnson “expressed his concerns about the language from the French government in recent days over the issue of fishing licenses” during talks on the margins of the G20 summit in Rome, according to his office.
“The French threats are absolutely unjustifiable,” Johnson said, adding that they “do not appear to be compatible” with the deal governing Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Johnson told Sky News hours earlier that he hasn’t ruled out using an as-yet-untested dispute resolution mechanism available under the rules of the separation agreement reached last year.
“Of course not, I don’t rule anything out,” he added, a day after Britain warned that new checks on all EU fishing boats may be implemented.
France is furious that the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey have refused to provide fishing licenses to some French boats after Brexit.
Paris has stated that unless licenses are granted, UK boats will be prohibited from offloading their catches at French ports beginning next Tuesday, and all products imported from the UK will be subject to inspection.
In a leaked letter to von der Leyen on Friday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex warned that Britain should be demonstrated that “leaving the EU causes more damage than staying in.”
The letter, which Politico obtained, enraged Johnson’s Brexit minister David Frost, who said on Saturday that he hoped “this opinion is not shared more generally across the EU.”
In a series of tweets, he continued, “To see it represented in this way is plainly very upsetting and highly worrisome.”
Frost went on to say that London was “seriously considering commencing dispute resolution processes” in response to the French threats, doubling down on Johnson’s words.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, France diverted a British trawler to the northern port of Le Havre on allegations of operating. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.