Following Britain’s threat to invoke Article 16 of the Brexit deal, the EU has warned it may take out punitive measures if the UK does not hand out more fishing licences to French fishermen. Indeed, French officials have called on the EU Commission to trigger measures within the deal which would hit UK exports with trade tariffs. If the EU does follow through with its threat, one economist has warned French and Irish farmers would be hit particularly badly from the fall out.
Writing for The Daily Telegraph, he said: “France has suggested that the EU could abandon the Brexit agreement if Britain invokes Article 16 over the protocol, which Lord Frost has said we will do unless pragmatic relations are put in place.
“However, it would be a big mistake for the EU to do so.
“The last thing the EU needs is a breakdown of the Brexit agreement, with, for example, tariffs being levied in a reprise of No Deal.
“Tariffs with Brexit Britain would damage EU producers, who would have to cut their prices in the British market to absorb them; but they would give HM Treasury a tidy sum.
“French and Irish farmers would be hit particularly badly.
“Meanwhile, our producers, newly integrated into the world market through our FTAs, will simply pass on the EU tariffs to EU consumers.”
Following pressure from France, the EU has warned it may use measures within the Brexit deal to hit back following the furore over Jersey fishing licences.
French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, also warned bilateral agreements signed with the UK may be at risk after 12 out of 47 vessels were granted licences.
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Speaking at the Tory party conference, Lord Frost claimed France had been “unreasonable” to suggest the UK is not respecting the elements of the deal relating to fisheries.
He said: “We do not accept that we are not abiding by that agreement.
“It’s not really a fair reflection of the efforts we’ve made.”
Lord Frost also reiterated the UK’s intent to invoke Article 16 if major elements of the Northern Ireland protocol are not amended.
Lord Frost will present legal text regarding the protocol to the EU and warned action must be taken by next month.
He added: “We need a short and intensive negotiation, and when I say short, I mean weeks, three weeks.