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by Elizabeth Piper
ROME, Oct. 30 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that he could not rule out trade sanctions against France next week amid the conflict between the two countries over fisheries.
Boris Johnson, who will host the UN climate summit next week, reiterated that he does not want this dispute with Paris to jeopardize the summit of the world’s 20 major economies (G20) in Rome, seen as a springboard for get more commitments for COP26 in Glasgow.
Britain’s exit from the EU last year increased tensions in its relations with France, and negotiations on fishing rights, with limited economic impact, proved long and difficult even before Britain left the bloc.
Emmanuel Macron on Friday took a new step in this conflict by questioning the “credibility” of Great Britain and accusing it of wanting to modify parts of a treaty signed last year, in particular on fishing rights.
“If there is a violation of the treaty or if we believe there is a treaty, we will do whatever it takes to protect British interests,” Boris Johnson told Sky News from Rome, where he is participating in the G20 summit on Saturday.
When asked if he would rule out the activation of retaliatory measures next week under the so-called Trade and Cooperation Agreement, he replied: “No, of course, I do not rule out that possibility.”
“But I think everyone wants to see cooperation between European allies, and (French President) Emmanuel Macron and I share a common perspective, which is that climate change is a disaster for humanity and that we have the tools to address it,” added. .
Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson are expected to have an informal meeting over the weekend on the sidelines of the G20.
France has long criticized the UK for having issued its fishermen an insufficient number of licenses to access British waters in light of London’s commitments to the European Union in the Brexit agreements.
Paris ended by announcing on Wednesday a first series of retaliatory measures that will take effect on November 2.
A British trawler has been immobilized in Le Havre since Thursday for having fished, according to France, without authorization in national waters.
(Elizabeth Piper and Michael Holden report, French version Jean-Michel Bélot)
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