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France threatens to cut power to British island in post-Brexit fishing dispute

“As you know, the agreement provides for retaliatory measures, and we are ready to use them,” Girardin told the French parliament.

Girardin also claimed that the Jersey government – which issued 41 fishing licenses to French vessels on April 30 – had imposed “unilateral” restrictions on trawlers.

“As far as Jersey is concerned, I will remind you, for example, of the transmission of electricity via an undersea cable,” she added. “We have the means at our disposal. And while it would be sad to come to this, we will if we have to.”

The Autonomous Island of Jersey is one of the Channel Islands, located just 14 miles off the coast of France. Although not technically part of the UK, the Islands are Crown Dependencies, internationally defended and represented by the UK government.

Jersey Electricity, the island’s main electricity supplier, says more than 95% of the electricity purchased by the island comes from France and is transported via submarine cables.

In a statement, Jersey’s Minister of External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst, said the island had been told by France and the European Union “that they were not satisfied with the conditions imposed on fishing licenses. and fishing in general “.

“These complaints are taken very seriously and the government will respond fully,” Gorst said. “However, the Jersey government has acted on legal advice, in good faith and with due regard to non-discriminatory and scientific principles at every stage of these proceedings.”

He added that Jersey regretted a recent decision by French local authorities in neighboring Normandy to shut down their representation on the island, saying it was based on a “misunderstanding that can be corrected”.

“We want to heal the relationship as quickly as possible, and we hope that the (Norman authorities) will take the opportunity to reverse the decision,” Gorst said.

The UK and the EU reached a post-Brexit trade deal on December 24, which came into effect on January 1 when Britain left the EU’s single market and customs union.

The Jersey spit is part of a growing dispute between the EU and the UK over fishing rights, with boats on both sides facing administrative hurdles and being fired for red tape.

“It is important that we immediately condemn this decision, I have done so with the (European) Commission, condemning the breach of the Brexit deal,” Girardin said, warning that Jersey’s decision “would set a dangerous precedent for access elsewhere “.

Girardin’s threat is reminiscent of the blockade by former French President Charles de Gaulle against the Principality of Monaco in October 1962 in the context of a dispute over taxation.

According to the archives of the French Assembly, this decision had a “psychological impact” on the local population who feared that the water, gas and electricity supplied by France would be cut. The blockade lasted only a few hours.


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