France and the UK have endured bitter feuds since the Brexit process began in 2016, with fishing, trade and borders all points of contention. This week, French vessels were warned they could be banned from fishing in Jersey waters as a feud continued between their respective governments. Following the Brexit trade talks, a new set of rules will be implemented in May. This will mean French vessels will have to prove they have fished in the Channel Islands for ten days in any of the last three years in order to be granted a licence.
French President Emmanuel Macron took an especially tough stance on the UK during the Brexit trade talks, and threatened to veto a deal late last year.
Prior to this, many in France also warned that the UK must not be better off outside the EU, including in June when this sentiment was delivered by Mr Macron’s allies to leaders in Brussels.
Jean-Pierre Pont, a member of Parliament for Mr Macron’s party who represents the town of Boulogne on the English Channel, said: “The [European] Union must continue to guarantee that fishing won’t be sacrificed to save other sectors.
“The government must stay as firm as possible. Britain can’t be better off outside than inside.”
This sentiment had already been expressed by French lawmakers in 2017, as a report suggested the UK must not have privileged access to EU markets.
The French senate vowed that the UK must not be allowed to leave the EU in a better-off position than it was as a member state, and if necessary a withdrawal without an agreement had to be considered.
It also described a speech by former Prime Minister Theresa May as “mixture of veiled threats and pledges of goodwill”.
The report admitted the UK economy had weathered the early Brexit storm, but said weaknesses would be exposed.
The French lawmakers said rising household debt, a weakening of the commercial real estate market, the current account deficit and the devaluation of sterling could impact the UK.
President Macron has been critical of Brexit from the very outset.
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When the deal was eventually secured, the French President claimed Brexit was built on “lies”.
He said: “The United Kingdom remains our neighbour, but also our friend and ally.
“This choice to leave Europe, this Brexit, was the child of the European malaise and of many lies and false promises.”
France has an annual surplus of about £9billion (€9.86bn) in trade with the UK.
About £2.75billion (€3bn) of that surplus flows from French agricultural exports, making the UK the third-largest market for French farm goods.
The French government has also been forced to pledge some of the £43million (€47million) from the hard Brexit fund to come to the aid of fishermen.