Emmanuel Macron tells Boris Johnson to respect the rules as pair meet amid France fishing row – Sky News

President Emmanuel Macron has told Boris Johnson to “respect the rules”, according to a French official, as the pair met following a row over fishing.

During the meeting in Rome, on the sidelines of the G20 summit, the French president said he has also triggered some measures aimed at easing tensions, according to French news outlet BFM.

“The goal for both the president and the prime minister was to work towards de-escalation,” a French presidential official told reporters after a private, one-on-one meeting.

It comes amid fears the UK and France only have two days to come to an agreement over fishing rights before the French impose restrictions at some of their ports.

French officials have threatened to ban UK fishing boats from some ports and tighten customs checks on lorries entering the country with British goods from Tuesday unless more licences are granted for small boats to fish in British waters.

There have been tensions over post-Brexit fishing rights for months but they hit the headlines again on Thursday when France seized a British scallop trawler, accusing the operators of fishing without a licence.

Boris Johnson speaks to Emmanuel Macron at the G20 summit in Rome
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Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron appeared at ease at the G20 summit but behind the smiles, there is tension

The trawler’s owner said at the time that it was “another pawn in the ongoing dispute between the UK and France on the implementation of the Brexit fishing agreement”.

Relations worsened when French President Emmanuel Macron told the Financial Times on Friday that the UK was risking its “credibility” after going back on commitments made to the EU with regards to fishing.

A letter seen by Sky News showed French Prime Minister Jean Castex telling European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that the bloc should prove there is “more damage to leaving the EU than to remaining there”.

Brexit minister Lord Frost said the comments were “very troubling and very problematic”, especially with “highly sensitive” negotiations underway with Brussels in an attempt to find a solution to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

He said the bloc would be in breach of the post-Brexit free trade deal terms if France carried out its threats on 2 November – threats which have also included restricting energy supplies to the UK and Jersey.

Clement Beaune leaves the Elysee palace in Paris, France, August 29, 2017.
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Clement Beaune defended his country’s actions on Sunday

In a series of tweets on Saturday, the Conservative peer said the UK was “actively considering” legal proceedings to solve the dispute.

But on Sunday morning, France’s secretary of state for European Affairs, Clement Beaune, defended the actions of his government.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Beaune said: “Following the Brexit deal (TCA), access was due to be granted within days to EU boats. We have now been negotiating patiently and constructively for 10 months, replying to a series of detailed and additional requests from British authorities, boat by boat.

“What is the current situation? We do not lack just a few licences, but more than 40% of French detailed requests. For the EU as a whole, around 90% of the expected licences have been granted, but all the missing ones are French.

“This is why France asks for action at the EU level, within the framework of the TCA, and stands ready to implement proportionate and reversible measures from 2 November, as we have announced repeatedly since last April. These measures are fully in line with the TCA.

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PM ‘worried’ that fishing treaty might have been breached

“It’s positive to read that the UK cares about the TCA; France and the EU expect its full respect and implementation, regarding fishing rights, the Northern Ireland Protocol and all other – agreed and ratified – matters.”

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The prime minister raised his concerns about the rhetoric from the French government in recent days over the issue of fishing licences.

“The prime minister stressed that the French threats are completely unjustified and do not appear to be compatible with the UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement or wider international law.”