UK, French leaders fail to defuse fishing row

ROME-French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stuck to rival positions on Sunday in their countries' post-Brexit dispute over fishing in the English Channel, with France maintaining its threat to impose sanctions starting from Tuesday that could include a blockade of British boats.
The two leaders held a 30-minute meeting on Sunday morning while attending the G20 Summit in Rome. Both then addressed the escalating tensions over the granting of fishing licenses as they held separate news conferences at the end of the meeting.
"I don't want any escalation, but we must take things seriously," Macron said. "My wish is not to go toward retaliation measures … It's rather to find an agreement."
France has threatened to bar British boats from some of its ports and tighten checks on boats and trucks carrying UK goods if more French vessels are not licensed to fish in UK waters by Tuesday. Paris has also suggested it might restrict energy supplies to the Channel Islands-British Crown dependencies that lie off the coast of France and are heavily dependent on French electricity.
Macron said he invited Johnson to work on a "methodology" to grant more fishing licenses to French ships.
"The ball is now in their court. If the British don't do any significant move, measures starting from Nov 2 will need to be implemented," Macron said. "I would deplore it. But what we cannot do is not respond and not defend our fishermen."
Fishing is a tiny industry economically, but one that looms large symbolically for maritime nations like Britain and France. Britain's exit from the economic rules of the 27-nation European Union at the start of the year means the United Kingdom now controls who fishes in its waters.
Paris claimed that some vessels have been denied permits to fish in waters where they have long sailed. But Britain said it has granted 98 percent of applications from EU vessels, and now the dispute comes down to just a few dozen French boats with insufficient paperwork.
Johnson, speaking at the sam

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