Emmanuel Macron vows to protect French fishing rights in UK waters after Brexit

French President Emmanuel Macron, who increasingly appears determined on conflict with the UK in post-Brexit trade deal talks, has said that he will not let French fishermen down in the negotiations and that France will seek compensation if they do not get the same access to British waters as when the UK was a part of the EU.

British fishing grounds are among the richest in the North East Atlantic zone where most of the EU catch is traditionally hauled in.

Future fishing rights in UK waters are likely to be a flashpoint in negotiations between Brussels and London on a post-Brexit relationship, and will also be a test of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's resolve: the strength of feeling in Britain is very strong on this issue.

“I want to tell our fishermen that I will fight for them. If we do not get the same access as today, we will seek compensation,” Macron told several regional French newspapers.

“I will not let our fishermen be impacted by a British vote they could do nothing about.”

Current rules allow EU boats to fish as close as six nautical miles to Britain’s coast, but with Britain’s exit from the EU, its exclusive economic zone will reach as far as 200 miles offshore, raising questions over the narrow channel between Britain and Europe.

Regaining control of Britain’s waters was a headline issue for Brexit campaigners. British fishermen say too many concessions were made when Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973.

EU leaders began talks on Thursday on a joint 2021-27 budget that will need to fill a €75 billion hole left by Britain’s departure just as they face costly climate and other challenges.

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