France threatens retaliation for UK’s banking sector unless Brexit fishing deal is respected

France has threatened to withhold authorisations for the financial sector if the UK does not respect post-Brexit agreements on fishing, the Minister for European Affairs said. 

“The United Kingdom is waiting for authorisations for financial services,” French Minister for European Affairs Clément Beaune said on BFM Business on 27 April. 

“We will not give them those until we have guarantees on fishing and other topics that they will respect their side of the deal… Otherwise, we too will be as blunt and difficult as necessary as a partner,” Beaune added. 

The interview comes as the European Parliament meets to debate the post-Brexit trade agreement between the EU and the UK on 27 April ahead of a vote on the subject. 

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The UK officially left the European Union on 31 January 2020, but the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 brought with it changes to immigration rules and access to financial markets, among other things.

The trade deal announced days before the end of the year only referenced the financial sector in passing.

However, fishing and access to European waters was a key point of contention in the final months of the negotiations, much to the City’s chagrin. 

In March, the memorandum of understanding between the UK and the EU laid out the framework for the regulatory cooperation between the two sides. 

“I’m not naïve, I know a good deal is only worthy if respected,” said Beaune. “So we will check if the UK is respecting it and if not we can react with retaliatory measures.”

READLondon to attract far fewer EU firms as Brexit risks ‘balance of power’

The City of London has been striving to establish itself as an attractive financial hub post-Brexit despite having lost its access to European markets – or “equivalence”, where the EU allows those with matching standards to access its markets. 

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Bérengère Sim

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