France Suggests It Might Cut U.K. Energy Supplies Amid Dispute Over Fishing Rights

France suggested that it might cut energy supplies to Britain's Channel Islands amid a dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights in U.K. waters, the Associated Press reported. The Channel Islands are British dependencies that rely heavily on electricity from France.

France has also threatened to block British boats from docking at its ports and tighten checks on vessels and vehicles transporting British goods if more French boats aren't granted licenses to fish in U.K. territorial waters by Tuesday.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss pushed back against the threats, warning France that the U.K. will "not roll over" from the pressure, AP reported.

"The French need to withdraw those threats, otherwise we will use the dispute resolution mechanism in the EU deal to take action," Truss told BBC radio. "We're simply not going to roll over in the face of these threats."

The U.K. and France have accused the other of violating the post-Brexit trade deal between Britain the European Union enacted at the start of 2021. Meanwhile, French fishing crews who stand to suffer the consequences of a continued dispute have called for a political solution to the issue, AP reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

U.K. France Fishing Dispute
France suggested that it might cut energy supplies to Britain’s Channel Islands off the coast of France amid a dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights in U.K. waters. Above, the British trawler kept by French authorities docks at the port in Le Havre, western France, on October 28, 2021. Michel Euler/AP Photo

Fishing is a tiny industry economically, but one that looms large symbolically for both Britain and France, which have a long and cherished maritime tradition. Since the start of the year both sides have control of their waters subject to the terms of the post-Brexit trade deal.

Paris says some vessels have been denied permits to fish in waters where they have long sailed. Britain says it has granted 98 percent of applications from EU vessels, and now the dispute comes down to just a few dozen French boats with insufficient paperwork.

"We allocated the fishing licenses completely in line with what is in the trade agreement with the EU and the French need to withdraw those threats," Truss said.

Dimitri Rogoff, who heads the regional fishing committee on the French coast near Jersey, said French crews have been providing paperwork for 10 months and don't understand why some boats won permits and others haven't.

He said he didn't understand why Britain is making a big deal over "20 or 30 boats," and that he hoped that the French government's threats could "incite our British friends to be a bit more conciliatory."

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 leaders summit in Rome, but little progress on resolving the dispute appears to have been made.

Macron has warned that unless Britain made a "significant move" to ease the dispute, Paris would introduce more stringent port and border checks from Tuesday.

Truss, echoing Johnson, said the U.K. would respond by triggering dispute resolution measures in the post-Brexit trade deal to seek "compensatory measures" if France carries out its threats.

The row is the latest to afflict relations between the British government and the EU since since the U.K. left the economic orbit of the bloc at the start of this year.

Rogoff expressed disappointment at the lack of progress at the Macron-Johnson meeting, and said French fishing crews are pawns in a diplomatic standoff.

Post-Brexit Fishing Controversey
The U.K. and France have accused the other of violating the post-Brexit trade deal between Britain the European Union enacted at the start of 2021. Above, French President Emmanuel Macron (left) and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepare to throw a coin in the water at the Trevi Fountain during an event for the G20 summit in Rome on October 31, 2021. Gregorio Borgia/AP Photo