France has threatened to cut the United Kingdom (UK) off from energy supplies if the terms of the Brexit deal aren’t stuck to.
The country’s Europe minister, Clement Beaune, said the agreement had to be “implemented fully” otherwise “we will take European or national measures to exert pressure on the UK”.
Asked what actions could be taken, Beaune pointed to both UK exports to France and European energy exports to the UK. He added:
The UK depends on our energy exports, they think they can live alone while also beating up on Europe and, given that it doesn’t work, they engage in aggressive one-upmanship.
Beaune was speaking after the government in London announced last month it had approved just 12 of the 47 applications it received from French small boats to fish in British waters.
That fury was further stoked in a later announcement by the Jersey government that of 170 licence applications it had received from French boats, 75 had been rejected.
Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, between England and France. It is a self-governing dependency of the United Kingdom.
Earlier this year, the French government made similar threats of “retaliatory measures” as part of a fishing dispute with Jersey.
It included a threat that it could cut off electricity to the British Crown Dependency, which receives 95% of its electricity from France through three undersea cables.
France accused Jersey of dragging its feet over the issuing of licences to French boats under the terms of the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels.
Meanwhile, Brexit minister Lord Frost hit back at the French government’s energy warning.
He said it was “unreasonable” to suggest the UK was acting in bad faith when it came to allocating post-Brexit fishing licences to French boats.
Lord Frost said London had been “extremely generous” to European Union requests and he questioned why the EU “resorts to threats quite quickly”.
Speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Lord Frost said:
For all the frustrations of the last 18 months, and particularly since January, I don’t think we as a country have resorted to those sort of threats.
I know people get frustrated with the way we behave but we have not made those kinds of direct threats to our neighbours.
The vaccine export ban earlier this year is another area where the EU resorts to legalism, it resorts to threats quite quickly and I just think that is not how we should behave.
We don’t, and I don’t see why our neighbours feel they have to.