Macron humiliated as Belgium refuses to back him in UK fisheries row 

Le snub! Emmanuel Macron is humiliated as Belgium refuses to back him in post-Brexit UK fisheries row

  • French President Emmanuel Macron dispatched ministers to Brussels this week
  • Hoped to see UK punished for allegedly withholding fishing permits from French
  • But Belgian counterparts rejected Paris’s call to trigger sanctions against Britain
  • French president Emmanuel Macron was left humiliated after Belgium snubbed overtures to back him over the post-Brexit fishing row with Britain.

    Mr Macron dispatched ministers to Brussels this week as part of his crusade to see the UK punished for allegedly withholding permits from French skippers.

    But France‘s prime minister Jean Castex and Europe minister Clement Beaune were rebuffed by their Belgian counterparts.

    Senior sources said Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo and foreign minister Sophie Wilmes dismissed Paris’s call to trigger sanctions set out in last year’s trade deal. 

    They said the French were left under no illusions that the row over access to waters near Britain and the Channel Islands was a ‘bilateral matter’ for the negotiating table. 

    ‘There is little appetite for a trade war over this,’ the source said. 

    They said the French were left under no illusions that the row over access to waters near Britain and the Channel Islands was a 'bilateral matter' for the negotiating table (Pictured: About 70 French trawlers staged a protest at Jersey's capital St Helier in May, before beating a retreat after two Navy gunships arrived)

    They said the French were left under no illusions that the row over access to waters near Britain and the Channel Islands was a ‘bilateral matter’ for the negotiating table (Pictured: About 70 French trawlers staged a protest at Jersey’s capital St Helier in May, before beating a retreat after two Navy gunships arrived)

    ‘This is not our fight. We still want to resolve the outstanding issues through dialogue with the UK.’

    The snub by Belgium, a long-time EU ally, is the latest embarrassment for Mr Macron ahead of April’s presidential election.

    One senior EU diplomat said: ‘It is quite clear that France is trying to use this dispute for domestic political purposes.’

    Another EU source, who works closely on Brexit issues, said most governments want to avoid being dragged into the spat.

    French fishing barons have threatened action expected to be held on Friday. Union chiefs will vote on the plans tomorrow.

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