France has threatened to cut off electricity supply to the British island of Jersey if the United Kingdom doesn’t abide by clauses of the Brexit agreement regarding fisheries, French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin said on Tuesday.
“As you know, the agreement provides for retaliatory measures, and we are ready to use them,” Girardin told the French parliament.
Girardin also claimed the Jersey government, which issued 41 fishing permits to French vessels on April 30 placed unilateral restrictions on trawlers.
“Regarding Jersey, I’ll remind you, for example, of electricity transportation via undersea cable,” she added. “We have means at our disposal. And even if it’d be sad to get to that point, we’ll get there if we must.”
The self-governing island of Jersey is one of the Channel Islands, sitting just 14 miles off the French coast. While not technically part of the United Kingdom, the islands are crown dependencies, defended and internationally represented by the UK government.
Jersey Electricity, the main electricity provider to the island, says more than 95% of the electricity the island purchases is from France and is transported via submarine cables.
In a statement, Jersey’s Minister for External Relations, Sen. Ian Gorst, said the island had been informed by France and the European Union “that they are unhappy with the conditions placed on fishing licenses and fishing in general.”
“Such complaints are taken very seriously, and the Government will respond in full,” Gorst said.
“However, the Government of Jersey has acted on legal advice, in good faith, and with due regard to non-discriminatory and scientific principles at every stage of these proceedings.”
The UK and EU reached a post-Brexit trade agreement on December 24, which came into force on January 1 when Britain left the EU’s single market and customs union.
The Jersey spat is part of an escalating dispute between the EU and the UK over fishing rights, with boats from both sides facing administrative hurdles and being turned away over paperwork.