The comments were made by La Republique En Marche! MEP Stéphanie Yon-Courtin who claimed the months of chaos sparked by a post-Brexit row over fishing licences was handled and judged with balance by President Macron, who she claimed made the right calls in delivering threats and making concessions, despite the souring of tensions between the UK and France that have beset the row.
Madame Yon-Courtin said: “In these ongoing discussions we have two key words in mind: Pragmatism and determination.”
She said how she “very much welcomes” the ongoing discussions between the EU and the UK to solve the fishing row before suggesting the “gestures of appeasement” to back down from retaliatory action on the French side was a good move.
The La Republique En Marche! MEP was then asked whether President Macron has “helped or hindered matters” through his fighting talk throughout the row.
But in a surprising reply the MEP lauded the French President for his decision-making throughout the furious row over boat licences which resulted in the seizure and ultimate release of a British fishing boat and its skipper.
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She said: “I think President Macron and the government have taken a really brave and courageous decision…
“First saying that there would be retaliatory measures in case the agreement is not respected and at the same time proposing to postpone them until the end of the discussions.
“So I think it is somehow a very good signal of discussions over the wiling to keep up [communication with the UK].”
But questioned whether it is a “good sign” to threaten the UK with retaliation before going into discussions to solve the row, the MEP said it was “normal” to behave in such a way.
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She claimed: “I think it is normal to ask the other side to respect its agreement signed 10-months ago, it is not threatening by surprise.
“At the end of the day we have been asking [the UK] to respect the agreement on the fisheries for 10 months now, it’s the same for the Northern Ireland Protocol!”
The comments follow months of chaos in Britain’s waters following a post-Brexit agreement that stated the French must apply for new licences in order to continue to fish in the 6-to-12 nautical-mile zone of UK waters.
France accused Britain of not following their side of the deal, arguing they had not been handed the agreed number of boat licences. Britain continually denied that it had not been playing fairly.
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Despite claims by the French, UK fishing licensing bodies insisted a raft of French fishing boats did not correctly submit the evidence required to prove they have fished in British waters before Brexit, a requirement under the new rules.
The backlash sparked a wide range of threats from French President Emmanuel Macron and culminated in a British fishing vessel, the Cornelis Gert Jan, owned by McDuff Shelfish, being seized by the French coastguard – the vessel and its skipper were released on Wednesday.
Relations were partly restored last week when Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed to hand France a further 100 fishing licences to calm the row while Emmanuel Macron retracted threats to bloc UK boats landing their catch in French ports – a move that could have collapsed the UK fishing industry.
But ongoing discussions to bring an end to the chaos were thwarted yet again on Thursday as talks ended in a stalemate over the future of the fishing deal after Brexit minister Lord David Frost spent around 90 minutes meeting France’s Europe minister, Clément Beaune.