Posts Tagged ‘French’

European Parliament to debate disciplining Hungary

September 11, 2018

The European Parliament is to discuss whether to launch disciplinary proceedings against Hungary.

MEPs will debate whether the right-wing government poses a serious risk to the EU’s values due to its policies on issues like migrants.

It comes just months after the European Commission took the step of launching similar proceedings against Poland.

However, this is the first time the parliament has tried to use the power, known as Article 7.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is expected to fight the claims personally in the chamber, brandishing a dossier of counter-arguments more than 100 pages long.

Mr Orban and his Fidesz party say many of the accusations against them on issues over rule of law were solved long ago.

The BBC’s Nick Thorpe in Hungary says the country’s ministers, along with its vocal pro-government media, speak of a witch hunt against Fidesz, for standing up for national sovereignty against what they call the liberal elite.

Eurosceptic Mr Orban was re-elected earlier this year after campaigning on an anti-immigration platform, with Fidesz winning two-thirds of parliamentary seats.

But while he has support at home, critics in the European Parliament say his policies are evidence he does not respect the values of the EU.

A committee of MEPs points to the Hungarian government’s approach to migration – including a new law which criminalises lawyers and activists who help asylum seekers – as well as media, the courts and universities as proof.

However, in order for any sort of disciplinary proceedings to go ahead, it needs the backing of two-thirds of MEPs – and it is not clear which way the vote, due to take place on Wednesday, will fall.

If MEPs do decide to support the process, which could end up with Hungary being monitored by Brussels, it may be a very slow process.

The European Commission took the unprecedented step against Poland in December 2017, giving it three months to address concerns that its judicial reforms threatened the rule of law.

However, there is still very little sign that a conclusion is coming, BBC Brussels reporter Adam Fleming says.




Hungary’s Orban Tests EU’s Ability to Enforce Rule of Law

September 11, 2018

Prime minister pillories bloc’s lawmakers as elites, but he has cultivated ties with traditional parties that may shield him from censure motion

Viktor Orban has been dubbed the “Trump before Trump” by former White House adviser Steve Bannon.
Viktor Orban has been dubbed the “Trump before Trump” by former White House adviser Steve Bannon. PHOTO: MARCO BERTORELLO/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has built almost unchecked power at home by attacking the European Union as a club of liberal, internationalist elites. Now he is counting on some of them to protect him from censure by the bloc.

A majority of lawmakers in the European Parliament, the EU’s legislative arm, wants member countries to admonish Hungary, as they did last year with Poland, for failing to uphold European legal standards. But for the vote to pass on Wednesday, a two-third majority of the 751-strong parliament is needed.

Whatever the outcome, Mr. Orban is likely to emerge unscathed thanks to his skills in testing the limits of what is acceptable in a Western democracy.

Dubbed the “Trump before Trump” by former White House adviser Steve Bannon, Mr. Orban rose to power by pillorying the EU. But unlike President Trump, who has lambasted political establishments on both sides of the Atlantic, Mr. Orban over the past decade cultivated links with Europe’s traditional parties. Their support could be pivotal in a vote that will test the EU’s authority to check the powers of nationalists.

Mr. Orban will have the chance to defend his government in a speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday, in which he is expected to appeal to some of those supporters, who span members of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, British conservatives and Italian lawmakers in the far-right League party.

His government has attacked the vote as a “witch hunt,” with government spokesman Laszlo Kovacs on Monday accusing lawmakers of perpetrating lies to punish Hungary for its opposition to liberal migration policies.

The lead drafter of the censure, Judith Sargentini, a Dutch lawmaker from the leftist Greens party, last week said her motion was based on the findings of many international bodies critical of Mr. Orban. “There is no turning back to a normal functioning democracy in Hungary,” she said.

To mollify his critics, Mr. Orban is expected to promise he will roll back some measures that sparked ire, such as his government’s targeting of universities and NGOs critical of his regime, an EU parliamentary official said.

But even if the vote passes and the sanctions procedure is triggered, the conflict with Brussels could help Mr. Orban, who has for years reveled in several disputes with the EU. The sanctions procedure carries little more than political stigma and the bloc would struggle to impose sanctions, such as a suspension of its voting rights. Mr. Orban has promised to veto any sanctions against Poland, which is fighting an EU case against it, so that he can count on Warsaw doing the same for him.

Since returning to power in 2010, Mr. Orban has given his party authority over Hungary’s courts, media, the central bank and tax inspectors to build what he has called an “illiberal state” modeled on Russia, China, and Turkey. He won a resounding two-thirds majority in parliament in April, in a vote that election observers called free, but not fair.

Viktor Orban with Matteo Salvini, the interior minister of Italy’s coalition government and the leader of the League, which has taken inspiration from the Hungarian leader’s stance on immigration.
Viktor Orban with Matteo Salvini, the interior minister of Italy’s coalition government and the leader of the League, which has taken inspiration from the Hungarian leader’s stance on immigration. PHOTO: MARCO BERTORELLO/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Mr. Orban blames the EU’s political elite, and Ms. Merkel in particular, for allowing a “Muslim invasion” of Europe during the 2015 migration crisis that brought more than one million people fleeing war or seeking a better life into the bloc.

Yet some of those elites still defend Mr. Orban. His Fidesz party belongs to the powerful European People’s Party in the European Parliament. The EPP includes Ms. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union. One EPP official described Mr. Orban as “our most loyal” member, and favorably compared his party with the ruling party in Poland, which isn’t affiliated with the EPP and has long shunned answering any questions from Brussels.

“Mr. Orban always knew when to back down and avoid sanctions,” the EPP official said.

Tensions within the German government also help Mr. Orban. Ms. Merkel may want to punish him, but the Bavarian CSU—which has pressed the chancellor to take a tougher line on migration—has not only backed Mr. Orban, but has also invited him to speak to their party gatherings.

The party and Ms. Merkel in July barely papered over their differences on immigration to avert the government’s collapse. With Bavarian elections set for October, Ms. Merkel and EU lawmakers from the CSU are unlikely to test their fragile alliance so soon, according to two EU officials.

Still, pressure is mounting on the EPP to take a stand against its Hungarian member: French President Emmanuel Macron, who isn’t affiliated with any pan-EU party, said last week that the EPP couldn’t support both Ms. Merkel and Mr. Orban and should “clarify its position.”

Yet other parties in the European Parliament support Mr. Orban. The Hungarian president has bolstered his position by supporting nationalist parties in Austria, Poland, and Slovenia that see Hungary as a model. Italy’s League, a member of the country’s ruling coalition, is taking inspiration from him on migration.

The ruling party in the U.K. is also voting against punishing Hungary. British Conservative EU lawmaker Daniel Dalton said, “We don’t think the EU should meddle in the internal situation, where member states are sovereign.”

Write to Valentina Pop at and Drew Hinshaw at

Germany’s Bundeswehr could soon take part in US, UK and French airstrikes on Syria

September 10, 2018

A report suggests Germany’s Bundeswehr could soon take part in US, UK and French airstrikes on Syria if another chemical attack should occur. The controversial move faces resistance in the government.

Bundeswehr tornado jet (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Kappeler)

The German Defense Ministry is reportedly in talks with its US counterpart to hammer out details for the Bundeswehr to join possible airstrikes by US, British and French forces on Syrian targets, Germany’s mass-circulation Bild newspaper reported on Monday.

The report suggests Germany’s conservative defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, has responded to a US request, which was followed by a meeting of high-ranking ministry and military officials from both countries.

German tornado jets could take part in combat missions alongside their US, UK and French counterparts, according to the article. It would be the first time for German forces to drop bombs since the war in the Balkans in the 1990s, Bild says.

Only in case of a chemical attack

The Bundeswehr would only join air strikes in case of another chemical attack. In April, President Bashar Assad was blamed by Western powers for using chemical weapons in an attack on Douma,which killed more than 70 people.

In response, US, UK and French forces bombed three government sites in Syria ins response to the chemical attack in Douma. Russia rejected Western allegations that Assad’s regime was behind the attacks. The US-led airstrikes were seen as the most significant attack of the Allied powers in Syria’s civil war.

If Germany joined the alliance, it would risk direct confrontation with Russia, which supports Assad.

The move, which would have to be approved by the chancellery, would be an about-face for conservative German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has previously said Germany would not take part in “military missions” in Syria.

Read moreIran, Russia, Turkey fail to agree on ceasefire for Syria’s Idlib

The report goes on to say that Bundeswehr forces could also join reconnaissance flights after a possible attack, also known as “battle damage assessment.”

The Bundeswehr is already active in Syria, but does not engage in combat missions.

Germans skeptical about combat missions

Many Germans are skeptical about theirarmed forces engaging in combat missions for historical reasons.

The Social Democrats’ (SPD) chair, Andrea Nahles, reacted to the report by saying that “the SPD will not approve Germany joining the war in Syria, neither in parliament nor in the government,” according to news agency dpa. The Social Democrats are in a grand coalition with Merkel’s CDU party.

The foreign and defense ministries would not comment on the report, but told Bild that they were “in close contact with our US ally.” They also pointed out that it was important to avoid further escalation in Syria, particularly with regard to “the use of chemical weapons, which the Assad regime has used in the past.”

French actor Gerard Depardieu spotted in North Korea

September 9, 2018

Gérard Depardieu, the enfant terrible of French cinema, has been spotted in the North Korean capital Pyongyang hours before the 70th anniversary of the country’s birth.

Journalists noticed the iconic actor in the Yangakdo hotel for tourists in the biggest city of the Communist state, which is due to mark its “Day of the Foundation of the Republic” on Sunday.

A major military parade, huge rallies and the return of iconic “mass games” are expected.

It is not known whether Mr Depardieu will take part in the festivities or is a guest.

Visibly irked at being identified, the star of Green Card, Jean de Florette and Cyrano de Bergerac refused to speak to media.

Image result for Gerard Depardieu, photos

French actor Gerard Depardieu accused of rape and sexual assault – judicial sources. He denies the claims

He declined to give any interviews to AFP journalists present, and was filmed saying:  “I don’t want journalists.” BFM TV also identified a French friend of the actor, Yann Moix, a novelist and outspoken radio and TV editorialist.

Oliver Hotham, managing editor of NK News managing editor and present at the hotel, tweeted that Mr Depardieu had “refused to allow photos and one of his dudes said ‘you’ll have a bad time’ if I persisted in trying to get a quote from him”.

However, he did grant a selfie to a member of a Turkish “friendship” delegation at the airport.

Oliver Hotham@OliverHotham

But, a delegation from the Turkish friendship association was kind enough to share this selfie taken at the airport

Scores of pro-North Korea “friendship” organisations and government delegations have been arriving in the North Korean capital in the past few days for the event.

Mr Depardieu was in the news in recent days in his native France after prosecutors launched a preliminary probe into allegations he raped a young French actress and singer in his Paris mansion last month.

The actor “absolutely denies any attack, any rape”, said his lawyer, Herve Témime.

Mr Depardieu, who has appeared in around 170 films, is a “friend” of Russian president Vladimir Putin and holds dual French-Russian nationality.

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It is not known whether Gérard Depardieu will take part in the festivities or is a guest CREDIT:  WONG MAYE-E/AP

On Sunday, North Korea is expected to put on a major military parade to mark its 70th anniversary.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as the North is officially known, was proclaimed on September 9, 1948, three years after Moscow and Washington divided the peninsula between them in the closing days of the Second World War.

With a diplomatic thaw underway with neighbouring South Korea and recent talks between leader Kim Jong-un and US president Donald Trump, analysts say Pyongyang may choose not to show off its latest missiles as in previous ceremonies.

More than 120 foreign journalists have been allowed to cover the events, North Korea’s largest-scale media invitation in recent years. But the precise schedule remains a mystery – standard procedure in the secretive country.



Gerard Depardieu was banned from driving for six months

Gerard Depardieu was banned from driving for six months by a French judge in June 2013. Photo: AFP/GETTY

French navy ‘ready to intervene’ in scallops row with UK fishermen

September 4, 2018

France said Tuesday its navy is standing by to avert new clashes between French and British fishing boats after tensions flared last week over access to scallop-rich waters off the Normandy coast.

Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert told CNews television the navy was “ready to intervene in case of clashes” after fishermen hurled stones and insults in the latest episode of a long-running “Scallops War”.

A patrol boat based in nearby Cherbourg is watching the area as part of a routine mission “to ensure the safety of people and ships at sea,” Captain Bertrand Dumoulin told AFP.

French and British fishing fleets have come to blows over when and where they can catch scallops

Travert said he could not speak for the British navy, whose ships are reportedly headed toward the area.

At stake is access to rich stocks of the pricey delicacy in waters near the mouth of the Seine River, with French boats allowed to fish there only between October to May to protect stocks.

But a deal struck years ago exempts British boats less than 15 metres (50 feet) long from the restrictions, a loophole French fishermen want to see closed when representatives of the two sides meet for talks on Wednesday.

© AFP/File | At stake is access to rich stocks of scallops in waters near the mouth of the Seine River

Tensions boiled over last Tuesday when five British boats sparred with dozens of French vessels in waters around 12 nautical miles off the French coast.

Some of the fishermen from both sides also rammed each other, video footage showed.

“We’re going to have to work on this, because this situation cannot continue, we can’t have clashes like this,” Travert said, saying a new deal was needed to ensure “a sustainable and efficient management of scallop stocks.”

But he also claimed most British fishermen were also “Brexiteers” who should not expect a separate deal with France as the UK prepares to leave the European Union in March next year.

“We want a global accord, and do not want to see fishing treated separately, because fishing should not be a variable for adjusting Brexit,” he said.



Macron’s French Vision for Europe Never Embraced — Britain’s approaching departure from the EU is one element of a bigger and deeply troubling set of Europe-wide challenges

September 4, 2018
France’s vision for concentric circles in Europe causes ripples
Paris has made proposal before, and is unlikely to get very far again
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Emmanuel Macron last month told a conference of ambassadors that France envisaged ‘a Europe of several circles’, each embodying a different degree of integration. Implicitly, the UK would be in an outer circle © Reuters

By Tony Barber

During August, the most thought-provoking ideas about Europe’s future, including Brexit, came from France. In a variety of speeches, interviews and articles, French politicians and commentators tackled the question of how to reform and stabilise Europe in an era shaped by disputes over migration, eurozone integration, the EU budget, the rule of law, rightwing populism and an unpredictable US ally.

It is a pity that little of this French debate caught the attention of the British. If they had followed it, they would have grasped that, for the French, Britain’s approaching departure from the EU is merely one element of a bigger and deeply troubling set of Europe-wide challenges.

True, the London media reported President Emmanuel Macron as saying that France wanted a strong, special relationship with the UK after Brexit, “but not at the cost of the European Union breaking up”. However, the larger message of Mr Macron’s speech, made to a conference of ambassadors in Paris, was that France envisaged “a Europe of several circles”, each embodying a different degree of integration.

Implicitly, the UK would be in an outer circle, perhaps the outermost, alongside Moldova and Ukraine, or Russia and Turkey. One of the few British politicians who found time to address the implications of Mr Macron’s speech was John Redwood, the Conservative MP and arch-critic of the EU, in his online diary. Naturally, he was sceptical.

The French notion of a Europe of concentric circles goes back to the 1981-1995 presidency of François Mitterrand. It did not get anywhere then, and it is unlikely to get very far today — at least, that is the view of Pierre Vimont, a retired diplomat who in the 1990s and 2000s was one of France’s most influential EU policymakers.

In an article for e!sharp magazine, Mr Vimont says that proposals for different levels of EU integration run into the problem that, for countries outside the inner core, it would feel like relegation to a sort of European Division Two or even Three. “This antagonism is further complicated by a growing perception that this debate hides a more fundamental confrontation between eastern and western Europe, as eastern Europeans see flexibility as a trick to gradually lock them into a second-class zone,” Mr Vimont writes.

However, perhaps this is precisely what Mr Macron wants — to achieve separation by stealth, and to construct a hardcore, mostly western Europe on the foundation of the Franco-German alliance. If so, Yves Bertoncini, a leading French expert on EU affairs, has some cautionary advice for Mr Macron. “The Germans are counting on a union of 27, not 19 or 12,” he is quoted in Le Monde as saying.

Perhaps the most eloquent French commentary in August was an article in Libération by Alain Duhamel, a prominent author and political columnist. He writes that the next 12 months “will be, for the European Union, the most formidable that it has ever had to confront”.

Advocates of a “hard Brexit” in the UK accuse France, and the EU more broadly, of wanting to punish the British for leaving the bloc. But Mr Duhamel sees Brexit as a cause for lament, not celebration.

Brexit “constitutes a dramatic failure for Europe, brutally cut off from one of its major members, the cradle moreover of parliamentary democracy and the temple of individual freedoms”, Mr Duhamel writes. No anglophobia there!


Further reading

“Many people are surprised to hear we haven’t left the EU yet, and that we could keep our current terms at any time before we legally leave the EU, if we change our minds. The attempt of the government to scare the country into accepting its paltry deal by threatening No deal is quickly losing its charm.” (Eloise Todd, chief executive of Best for Britain, in The Times)
The Times:
“It is thus quite possible that a year from now, we could be contemplating why we are still in the EU after all, or why we left it with maximum damage all round with minimum notice, or how we came to have an even weaker minority government, or how a Marxist despised by his own MPs ended up as prime minister. Any of those situations would mean this long-established democracy had suffered a massive failure of its political system.” (William Hague in The Telegraph)
“Fanatical Brexiteers are bound to be disappointed. The European Union and the United Kingdom are so deeply interdependent that a real divorce is, in practice, impossible.” (Andrew Duff, president of the Spinelli Group and visiting fellow at the European Policy Centre, on Politico)
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Activity in UK factories expanded at the slowest rate in more than two years during August as weaker global growth led to the first fall in export orders since 2016, a survey of executives said on Monday.

The monthly IHS Markit purchasing manufacturers index fell to 52.8 in August compared with 53.8 in July. Anything above 50 is said to indicate an expansion while anything below means a contraction. This was the survey’s lowest reading for 25 months. Analysts had expected the pace of growth in the sector to remain the same as the previous month.

During August new export orders fell for the first time since April 2016. Survey respondents said this was because of a “weaker pace of expansion in the world economy”.

Scallop War: France Draws “No Go Beyond” Line For UK Fisherman – or face violence

September 1, 2018

FRENCH fishing industry officials have told British fishermen to stay out of waters close to the Normandy coast after violent skirmishes in the Channel over scallops.

French Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert said he has asked British fisheries minister George Eustice to ensure UK vessels do not sail south of the Barfleur-Antifer line, the scene of this week’s clashes.

The announcement came after Environment Minister Michael Gove called on France to act to prevent a repeat of the “terrible scenes” which saw rival boat crews clash, with vessels damaged by stones and other projectiles, and one British ship rammed.

Image may contain: outdoor and water

French and British fishing fleets have come to blows over when and where they can catch scallops

French fishermen accuse the British of unfairly catching scallops in the Baie de Seine in the summer months when French boats are banned from doing so under rules imposed by the Paris government to conserve stocks of the shellfish.

Mr Travert told Europe 1 radio he had discussed the issue with a British minister on Thursday night and that the industry representatives would meet next week to work out an agreement.

I asked my counterpart, because I defend my fishermen and the French fishing industry, to make sure that the British fishermen do not come to the Barfleur-Antifer line

French Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert

He said: ”We both condemn the violent acts and we want to return to a spirit of responsibility.

“I asked my counterpart, because I defend my fishermen and the French fishing industry, to make sure that the British fishermen do not come to the Barfleur-Antifer line until we find a solution.”

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, said it was time for calm, for rational discussion and peaceful resolution, not conflict at sea.

He said: “As control over access and fisheries resource changes in the next few years, it will be imperative that the rules are agreed, accepted and, where necessary, enforced.”

Stephane Travert Michael Gove

Stephane Travert made his remarks after Michael Gove lamented the (Image: GETTY•REUTERS)

The clashes occurred in the Baie de Seine (Image: Google)

Scallops – known as Coquilles Saint Jacques in France – are one of a handful of species whose catch is governed by national rather than European Union regulations.

While British ships have no access to French territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles (19km) off the coast, they can legally operate in the expansive Baie de Seine between Cherbourg and Le Havre.

France bans its fishermen from scallop dredging between May 15 and October 1, but Britain allows its vessels to operate year-round.

After similar clashes in 2012, French and British fishing organisations negotiated an agreement each summer under which the UK fleets do not start scallop dredging in the Baie de Seine before the French, in exchange for part of the French fishermen’s dredging permits.

Callum Clark Nathan Clark

Fishermen Callum and Nathan Clark spoke of the “scary” incident earlier this week (Image: SWNS)

But small British vessels were excluded from that agreement. The French say the British have undermined the spirit of the deal by sending more and more small vessels.

In protest, the French have not signed any agreement this year.

British fisherman face losing access to EU waters after the country leaves the bloc next year, in the absence of any deal.

Mr Rogoff said that ahead of Brexit, British fishermen had increased scallop trawling, risking wiping out the seafood during their breeding season, adding: “The British scallop harvest has grown more than tenfold in the past decade, they now catch more than we do.”


British fisherman can catch scallops all year round, unlike the French (Image: GETTY)

By the time the season opens in October there are few scallops left for the French fleet, he explained.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Gove said: “My heart goes out to the British fishermen who were caught up in the terrible scenes that we saw happen earlier this week.

“They were fishing entirely legally, they had every right to be in those waters, and we talked to the French authorities in order to ensure that we have a protocol.

“These are French waters – it’s the responsibility of the French to ensure that those who have a legal right to fish can continue to fish uninterrupted.”

France says Iran ‘cannot avoid’ expanded talks on nuclear issue

August 31, 2018

Iran “cannot avoid” talks on thorny issues like its ballistic missile program and role in Middle East conflicts, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Thursday, as France leads the work to rescue the beleaguered nuclear deal with Tehran.

“Iran must respect the fundamentals of the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and I think that is the case, but Iran cannot avoid discussions, negotiations on three other major subjects that worry us,” Le Drian said as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Vienna.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned on Thursday Iran cannot avoid talks about its role in Middle East conflicts. (AFP)

France are among several countries, including Germany, UK, Russia and China, continuing to try and salvage the deal after US President Donald Trump decided to pull the US out unilaterally in May.

The comments came after a confidential quarterly report seen by AP released by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which shows Iran continues to comply with the nuclear deal even after the withdrawal of the US.

In the report, distributed to member states, the IAEA said Iran has stayed with key limitations set in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

The deal exchanges economic incentives for nuclear guarantees. Since the American withdrawal and re-imposition of sanctions, Iran’s economy has already started to struggle and its currency has plummeted in value.

The other five nations have affirmed their commitment to the deal, which limits Iran’s enrichment and stockpiling of material that could be applied to a nuclear weapons program. In exchange, Tehran was granted widespread relief from international trade, oil and banking sanctions.

The nations have said it will take time, however, to negotiate the details of the guarantees that Iran is looking for.

In the report, the IAEA said it had been given access to all sites in Iran that it needed to visit and that inspectors confirmed Iran has kept within limits of heavy water and low-enriched uranium stockpiles.

British and French fishing boats clash angrily in the English Channel over access to scallops

August 30, 2018

Scallop row: UK in talks to ensure ‘no repeat’ of clashes

French and British fishing fleets have come to blows over when and where they can catch scallops

The UK government has said it is talking to French authorities to ensure there will be “no repeat” of clashes between fishermen over scallops off France’s north coast.

On Monday, nearly 40 French boats confronted British rivals they say are depleting scallop stocks in the area.

The UK’s environment secretary says the British boats were fishing legally.

France says it is ready to send more police vessels to the area to prevent further clashes.

Boats collided and stones were thrown during the confrontation off the coast of Normandy in the early hours of Tuesday.

Local official Ingrid Parrot said the situation had been “extremely tense” and both sides had thrown objects at each other.

She defended sending just one boat to police the incident overnight, saying: “The aim was to stop the tensions from increasing. We sent only one ship that day, but we will send more if it’s necessary.”

Mike Park, chief executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, said the incident was “high seas piracy” but said the French had agreed to a request for talks.

“We need to decrease tensions in the whole area,” he told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.

The European Commission urged France and Britain to find an “amicable” solution.

Scallop row: What’s the EU’s fishing feud about?

What exactly happened?

The French boats gathered overnight on Monday in protest against so-called “pillaging” by five larger British vessels.

The British were chased away with two boats, Golden Promise and Joanna C, returning to Brixham harbour with damaged windows.

Map showing Normandy coast

The crews alleged they had been surrounded and had rocks and metal shackles thrown at them, but French police said UK boats responded in kind.

A video published by French media shows a Scottish scallop dredger, the Honeybourne 3, colliding with French vessels.

Why has it all blown up now?

Tension has rumbled for 15 years, but in the past five a deal has prevailed – larger British boats stayed out of the area in exchange for more fishing rights.

British boats can gather scallops year-round, but French law restricts the scallop fishing season to between 1 October and 15 May.

Marc Delahaye from the Normandy fishing committee said they also objected to the British using “great dredgers” in the area, while the French used smaller boats.

The Honeybourne 3, a Scottish scallop dredger, docked in West Sussex
The Honeybourne III, a Scottish scallop dredger, docked in West Sussex after the clash

The UK scallop industry is worth £120m and supports 1,350 jobs. About 60% of the catch is exported – with much of it being bought by the French.

But a 2016 report by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) warned that the fishing effort by France, the UK, Belgium and Ireland in the Bay of Seine was “too high”.

International environmental group ClientEarth said it was “disappointing” to see boats catching scallops during the spawning season, when it said depleted stocks could reproduce and grow.

France was demonstrating “high environmental standards” by banning its fleet from fishing during the summer, the group said.

Analysis: James Landale, Diplomatic Correspondent

Inevitably Brexit looms large. Some French fishermen hope that when the UK leaves the Common Fisheries Policy, British trawlers will not be allowed into these waters.

But it may not be as simple as that. It is still not clear what agreement an independent UK may make with the EU on fishing quotas.

And the French desire to negotiate some continuing access to British waters may be more important than protecting their scallops off Normandy.

So Brexit may change the rules of the game but it is unlikely to bring an end disputes to like this.

How have the British responded?

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the government was talking to French authorities to ensure there was “no repeat” of the clashes.

He told the BBC his heart went out to the British fishermen involved, who had “absolutely every right to be fishing in those waters”.

The French had a “legal responsibility” to ensure their territorial waters were “appropriately policed” to allow legal fishing to continue, he added.

Prime Minister Theresa May called for an “amicable solution” to the row.

“It’s what we want and it’s what France wants and we will be working on that,” she said.

Mr Park rejected suggestions that British boats were overfishing the area.

They catch just 6% of the scallops in the area, he said, so “if there’s any accusation of over fishing it’s not on the UK fishermen, it’s on the French fishermen.”

“Scallops are plentiful and they’re expensive,” he said. “We’re doing nothing wrong and what we can’t do is be bullied.”

Sheryll Murray, MP for South East Cornwall, said environment secretary Michael Gove has assured her “appropriate measures” are in place to enable UK fishermen to keep working.

But she questioned whether French authorities were “turning a blind eye” while their fishermen “took the law into their own hands”.

Local French officials said they could not intervene directly because the conflict took place in international waters.

How is it being reported in France?

By BBC Monitoring

French media have framed the scallop showdown as a “battle” between two nations, with some outlets highlighting the future impact of Brexit.

Under the headline “The battle for Saint-Jacques scallops off Normandy”, left-wing daily Le Monde cited fishing chief Dimitri Rogoff who said that the UK would normally “be considered a third country and will not have access to these [fishing] zones” after it leaves the European Union.

French fishermen are nevertheless worried by Brexit “as Britain plans to pursue its own fishing policy starting from the end of March 2019, particularly regarding access to its territorial waters of boats from EU countries” noted weekly magazine L’Usine Nouvelle.

Popular regional newspaper Ouest-France said that sailors from Normandy “insist that they respect the [fish] resources” and had gone to sea “to explain this to the English”.

“We have won a battle, but we haven’t won the war,” concluded one French fisherman in a report by public TV channel France 3.

See also

Financial Times

Macron affirms love for France after ‘resistant Gauls’ aside — “It’s not contempt to say things as they are and to tell the truth.”

August 30, 2018

President Emmanuel Macron found himself having to defend his love of France and the French against critics at home on Thursday after suggesting during a visit to Denmark that his compatriots were slow to accept change.

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French President Emmanuel Macron and Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila shake hands at the Prime Minister’s official residence Kesaranta in Helsinki, Finland August 30, 2018. Lehtikuva/Markku Ulander via REUTERS

Speaking to Denmark’s Queen Margrethe during an audience in Copenhagen on Wednesday, Macron praised the Danes as a “Lutheran people” open to new ideas, while he described the French as “Gauls who are resistant to change”.

The lightly delivered aside prompted a flood of criticism from domestic opponents.

“It is unacceptable to hear the president criticize and caricature the French like this,” said Laurent Wauquiez, head of the center-right Les Republicains party.

Marine Le Pen of the far-right said the comment showed Macron held the French in contempt and far-left deputy Alexis Corbiere called it “utter nonsense”.

Macron, who has made reform a watchword of his presidency, defended himself, saying the comment was meant humorously and people shouldn’t get swallowed up by social media outrage.

“I don’t have the feeling it’s a scoop that France was originally made up of Gallic tribes, which for me is something to be very proud of,” he told a news conference in Helsinki, the final leg of a three-day visit to the Nordic region.

“I love France and the French and I love these Gallic tribes with all their variety and paradoxes… It’s not contempt to say things as they are and to tell the truth.”

Macron has faced frequent criticism for his sharp tongue and sometimes cutting wit.

Shortly after being elected in May last year, he berated a group of striking workers for “kicking up a bloody mess” and was roundly criticized for referring to “slackers”.

He also upbraided a teenager for not addressing him politely and caused a diplomatic spat with the Italian government after accusing its leaders of cynicism.

Macron has introduced a raft of reforms, some of which have led to strikes and protests but without anything like the level of union resistance seen in previous eras.

“If I thought we were nothing but reactionaries, I wouldn’t be here before you,” he told reporters in Helsinki.

Additional reporting by Richard Lough; Writing by Luke Baker; editing by John Stonestreet