France tells UK: ‘Starting a fishing feud won’t bring you turkeys for Christmas’

In signs that France was growing increasingly impatient with the UK, the country's Europe Minister told London on Friday that Brexit was "your failure, not ours" and that starting a fishing feud would not solve the problem of Christmas shortages.

A French fishing boat protests in front of the port of Saint Helier off the British island of Jersey in May 2021. Jersey is once again at the centre of a row over fishing licences.
A French fishing boat protests in front of the port of Saint Helier off the British island of Jersey in May 2021. Jersey is once again at the centre of a row over fishing licences. Photo: Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP.

France could reduce, but not entirely cut electricity supplies to the British crown dependency of Jersey this winter as part of “targeted” retaliation measures in a dispute over fishing, Europe Minister Clement Beaune told BFM-TV on Friday.

“Reducing supplies (of electricity to Jersey) is possible, but cutting the power to every Jersey resident this winter is something that will not happen and something that I do not want,” Beaune said.

Britain has refused to grant all the fishing licences sought by French boats as part of a post-Brexit access deal, leaving Paris furious and fishermen worried for their livelihoods.

Beaune had previously floated the idea of cutting power to the the British crown dependencies of the Channel Islands like Jersey which rely on nearby France for their energy.

A sequence of statements from Paris indicated that French patience on the issue had run out as bilateral disagreements on a host of issues seem to run out of control.

Beaune, seen as a close ally of President Emmanuel Macron, urged Britain to stop penalising French fishermen for its domestic problems after Brexit.

“Stop telling us you do not need us anymore, stop being obsessed with us, stop believing that we will solve your problems,” he said.

“They made a mess of Brexit. It’s their choice and their failure, not ours. It was a bad choice, we see that today.

“It is not by creating problems for our fishermen… that you will solve the problems of shortages of Christmas turkey,” he said.

ANALYSIS: Why the new fishing row between France and UK could get nasty

France's Europe Minister Clement Beaune has accused the UK of 'creating problems' for French fishermen.

France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune has accused the UK of ‘creating problems’ for French fishermen. Photo: JOHN THYS / POOL / AFP.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier had “negotiated the fact that we have an energy export deal, which means we can regulate the flows”, Beaune said, calling that option “a political possibility”.

But he added: “I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

The minister said France had asked for 450 fishing licences but had only received 275. “We’re 40 percent short, but we insist on those 450,” he said.

“Britons need us to sell their products, including from fishing, they need us for their energy, for their financial services and for their research centres,” Beaune said.

“All of this gives us pressure points. We have the means to modulate the degree of our cooperation, to reduce it, if Britain does not implement the agreement,” he said.

“If they don’t do their share, then we won’t do 100 percent of our share either.”


Jersey on Thursday called France’s threat to cut power to the British crown dependency over fishing rights “unacceptable” and said it was unlikely to be carried out.

The threat was “disproportionate” and “unacceptable” and violated Britain’s post-Brexit treaty with the European Union, Jersey’s Minister for External Relations Ian Gorst told reporters via videolink.

Gorst said such a move would deprive 108,000 islanders of power, as well as Jersey’s hospital and schools.

“I do not believe therefore it will happen,” he said.

But should France carry out the threat after all, “we do have contingencies in place”, he said.

Fishing rights for EU boats in UK waters were a key stumbling block to negotiations for a post-Brexit trade accord between London and Brussels after Britain’s exit from the bloc on January 1st, 2021.

The dispute flared in May when a flotilla of around 50 French trawlers massed in front of the Saint Helier harbour on Jersey, a self-governing territory that along with fellow crown dependency Guernsey depends on Britain for its defence.

The protest sparked a tense standoff that even drew in French and British military vessels.

Since then, French fishermen have applied for the new access licences but complain of onerous paperwork and a requirement to prove they had fished in British and Jersey waters before Brexit, not always an easy task, especially for smaller boats.

Last week, Britain said it would grant just 12 out of 47 applications for new licences for small EU boats, while Jersey issued 64 full and 31 temporary licences but refused 75 applications.

“We’ve done everything we can to enable licenses to be issued to those vessels who can prove they’ve fished in our waters and we continue to do so,” Gorst said.

Member comments

  1. UK fishermen paid the price for the UK joining the Common Fisheries Policy. French fishermen ( amongst others ) will pay the price for the UK leaving the Common Fisheries Policy. That’s life.

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France to sell Russian oligarch’s Riviera chateau

French authorities have put up for sale a luxurious multi-million-euro chateau seized from the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky who died in 2013 and was a sworn opponent of President Vladimir Putin, the agency handling confiscated assets said on Friday.

France to sell Russian oligarch's Riviera chateau

Berezovsky acquired the Chateau de la Garoupe on the Cote d’Azur in the 1990s while post-Soviet Russia’s first president Boris Yeltsin was in power and the tycoon was considered one of the most powerful people in the country.

But it was confiscated by French authorities in 2015, two years after Berezovsky was found dead in exile at his home in England in circumstances that have never been fully explained. He had by then become a bitter opponent of Putin.

A screenshot from Google Maps, showing the Chateau de la Garoupe along the coast.

The property was built on the prestigious Cap d’Antibes by the British industrialist and MP Charles McLaren, and its rich history has seen it associated with the likes of Pablo Picasso, Cole Porter and Ernest Hemingway.

The chateau “represents exceptional architectural and cultural heritage. Its acquisition offers a unique opportunity to own a prestigious residence steeped in history in an enchanting setting,” France’s Agrasc agency on confiscated assets said in a statement.

Interested parties can express their interest from June 16th to July 17th and those validated as possible buyers can submit bids from September.

The chateau, like the neighbouring property of the Clocher (Belltower) de la Garoupe, also owned by Berezovsky, was confiscated after being judged to be the proceeds of money laundering committed by investment company Sifi and its manager, Jean-Louis Bordes.

They were ruled to have acted as a front for Berezovsky.

Reacting in response to an initial complaint filed by Russia, the French authorities needed 10 years to unravel the complex history of purchases including that of the Chateau de la Garoupe in December 1996.

The Cote d’Azur has been popular with rich Russians going back to visits from the imperial family at the turn of the century.

After the collapse of the USSR, it became a favourite playground for the country’s oligarchs.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions from the West has made owning property and even entering France increasingly problematic for many Russians.