France delays UK fishing row sanctions

French President Emmanuel Macron is postponing planned trade sanctions on Britain so negotiators from both sides can work on new proposals to defuse their dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights.

France had earlier said that, starting late on Monday, it would restrict cross-channel trade, threatening to turn bickering over fish into a wider trade dispute between two of Europe's biggest economies.

But Macron, who earlier on Monday met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the UN climate conference in Glasgow, told reporters the French plan was on hold pending the outcome of renewed talks.

"My wish is that we can find a way out on all these issues," Macron told reporters.

European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said on his Twitter feed the trade sanctions would not be applied before a meeting with British Brexit Minister David Frost in Paris on Thursday.

The UK government welcomed France's decision.

Earlier on Monday, Britain gave France 48 hours to back down from the threat of sanctions or face legal action under the Brexit trade deal.

The measures threatened by France include increased border and sanitary checks on goods from Britain and banning British vessels from some French ports.

Britain and France have squabbled for decades over access to the rich fishing grounds around their channel coasts.

The fishing issue dogged the negotiations that led to Britain's exit from the European Union.

Reasserting Britain's control over its fishing grounds was a central plank of the case for Brexit that Johnson presented to voters.

Macron, meanwhile, faces re-election next year and needs to be seen standing up for his nation's trawler crews.

The latest row erupted in September after Paris accused London of failing to allocate enough post-Brexit licences to French boats to fish in the zone six to 12 nautical miles from UK shores.

Britain says it is issuing licences to vessels that can prove they have previously fished in its waters - a central demand from British fishermen who fear French boats could wipe out their own profits.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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