EU vows to fix UK-France fishing row

BRUSSELS, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- The European Commission aims to make sure that French fishermen will be issued licenses needed for them to continue to operate in the territorial waters of the United Kingdom (UK) and Jersey, a Commission spokesperson said here on Wednesday as tensions mount between France and the UK over the matter.

File photo: VCG

"Finding a solution and continuity to the fishing activities of the European fishermen and women remains a top priority," Vivian Loonela, the Commission's coordinating spokesperson for fisheries matters, said.

French fishermen are threatening to block the port city of Calais and the Channel Tunnel to stop exports of goods produced in the European Union (EU) to the UK, thereby "sinking Christmas," if new fishing licenses are not issued in the next two weeks, according to the British newspaper Daily Mail.

Brexit (the UK's departure from the EU) has deprived several French fishermen of the right to operate in UK territorial waters.

The UK has agreed to grant fishing licenses to boats that can prove past fishing activity in its waters, but too few such licenses have been delivered, according to French fishermen.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex also called on the EU to push for more licenses to be issued, threatening to cancel bilateral agreements between France and the UK.

"The UK has now published its methodology it used to issue licenses ... and we are discussing ... with the French, as well as with the British and the Jersey authorities, the differences regarding the rights of the specific boats involved," Loonela said.

Last week, Loonela pointed out that without knowing how the UK was assessing the applications for fishing licenses, it was hard to tell why some of them had been denied.

"We remain absolutely engaged in making sure that we find a solution to this issue as soon as possible, and make sure that the interests of our fishermen and women are respected," she said.