Jersey hits back at ‘disproportionate’ French threat to cut electricity

Lawrence Kim
May 6, 2021

The system - introduced by the Government of Jersey under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) - requires French boats to show they have a history of fishing in Jersey's waters.

The late-night discussions came less than 24 hours after Annick Giradin, the French maritime minister, said on Tuesday that Paris could shut down three undersea cables that provide Jersey with 95 percent of its electricity if the dispute over fishing licences were not resolved.

Two offshore patrol vessels are to be sent to "monitor the situation" in Jersey as rows over post-Brexit fishing rights escalate.

The UK and France have been battling over access to fishing waters for several months, with French Europe Minister Clément Beaune accusing the UK of blocking access to French vessels and arguing that the European Union could respond by denying the UK access to the bloc's financial service markets.

Downing Street said Mr Johnson believed "any blockade would be completely unjustified" and that the Navy vessels would be deployed as a "precautionary measure".

"Even though I am sorry that it has come to this, we will do so if we have to", she said.

Jersey, a self-governing British Crown dependency off the coast of France, has said it will require boats to submit further details before the licenses could be granted and pleaded for patience.

A spokeswoman said it took French complaints over the terms of the licensing agreement "very seriously" and would respond, but argued it had acted in "good faith" setting up the regime. The UK government is constitutionally responsible for the global relations of the crown dependencies.

The French fisheries ministry said Britain had introduced "new technical measures" relating to licences for fishing off the Channel Islands which had not been properly declared to the European Union under the terms of the Brexit deal.

A spokesman for the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told The Guardian: "We are clear that Jersey is responsible for its own territorial waters".

"We want to heal the relationship as soon as possible, and we hope the (Normandy authorities) will take the opportunity to reverse the decision", Gorst said.

The row over fishing is one of several disputes between the United Kingdom and the European Union since London left the bloc's single market and customs union at the start of the year.

Didier Leguelinel, from the Normandy fishing committee, said: "The general feeling is that we have been insulted by the Jersey government".

According to archives from the French Assembly, the move had a "psychological impact" on the local population that feared water, gas and electricity provided by France would be cut.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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