France Says Leaving EU Should be ‘More Damaging than Remaining’
The escalation in tensions in the English Channel between France and the UK over fishing rights may in fact be a symptom of a wider dispute over Brexit, with French Prime Minister Jean Castex admitting that Britain should be punished for leaving the European Union.
In a leaked letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen concerning the ongoing fishing rights disputes, Mr Castex said that Brussels needs to make an example out of Britain to show that leaving the EU is “more damaging than remaining”.
In the letter, obtained by POLITICO and seen by other news outlets, the French PM wrote that it is “necessary for the European Union to show its full determination to obtain full compliance with the agreement by the United Kingdom and assert its rights by using the levers at its disposal in a firm, united and proportionate manner.
“It is essential to make clear to European public opinion that compliance with the commitments entered into is non-negotiable and that leaving the Union is more damaging than remaining in it.”
Mr Castex went on to argue that if Britain fails to meet the demands from Paris on the number of fishing licenses granted, then the EU should trigger article Article 506 of the Brexit agreement in order to impose sanction-like tariffs on British seafood. The French government has already threatened to take such actions unilaterally, however, has so far seen minimal support in Brussels.
Paris has previously threatened to cut off energy entirely to Jersey.
In a further escalation of tensions, a British fishing vessel was detained off the French fishing port town of Le Harve on Wednesday. According to a report in The Times, the captain of the boat has been charged by the French with unauthorised fishing and could face a criminal trial and fines of up to €75,000 (£63,000/$86,000).