The British dependency imports most of its electricity from France, which is angry at the fishing rights granted by Jersey.
France’s maritime minister suggested his government could cut off electricity supply to the British island of Jersey, amid a deep row between France and the UK over post-Brexit fishing rights.
Annick Girardin said she was “outraged” when she learned that Jersey had granted 41 fishing licenses that included specific conditions and criteria that were “decided unilaterally and without explanation.” The island off the north-west coast of Brittany is an autonomous dependency of the British Crown which imports about 95% of its electricity from France via submarine cables.
“We are prepared to resort to retaliatory measures” found in the Brexit deal, Girardin told lawmakers in the National Assembly on Tuesday.
“As for Jersey, I will remind you of the transportation of electricity through submarine cables,” he added. “I would regret that we had to do it, but we will do it if we have to.”
Girardin said he denounced non-compliance with the Brexit agreement to the European Commission. He also posted a video clip of the comments to lawmakers on his Twitter account.
Jersey Foreign Minister Ian Gorst said the island had issued the licenses in accordance with the UK’s trade and cooperation agreement with the European Union. That means French boats must prove a history of having fished in the area, he said.
“If French fishermen or authorities have more evidence than they would like to present, we will update the licenses to reflect that evidence,” Gorst said in a statement on the Jersey government’s website. “We’re entering a new era and it takes time for everyone to adjust.”
UK Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News that Britain and the EU should “continue to work together” to “solve” any problems. “We need to look at it urgently” and the “best way” to fix it is to work together, he said Wednesday.
Last week, Clement Beaune, the French supplier of European Affairs, threatened to block regulations that would allow British financial companies to do business in the EU if Britain fails to meet its fishing commitments.
Access to abundant fishing grounds between 6 and 12 nautical miles (11 to 22 kilometers) off the British coast is difficult and the UK has not delivered all the licenses for which it was intended, the head of the National Fisheries Committee , Jean-Luc Hall, told Bloomberg last week. He added that French fishermen do not venture into the waters of the UK without a license due to the risk of fines.
British and EU negotiators are locked in discussions on the 2021 catch quota for shared fishing stocks. Hall said some of them “think it’s possible that delays in licensing are a lever in quota negotiations.”