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Battle of the Fishing Boats

by John Brian Shannon

Fishing boats from France and the UK clash in International Waters Off the French Coast

Fishing boats from France and the UK clash in international waters

Fishing boats from France and the UK clash in international waters off the French coast.  Image courtesy of BBC.

While my head is with the British fishermen attacked yesterday for legally scraping for scallops in international waters, my heart is with the French fishermen who illegally attacked the British fishing boats.

It seems the French government passed a law that only French fishers must obey, but those French fishermen and fisherwomen were upset (inexplicably… not at their own government, but at the British fishers who were merely exercising their legal right to harvest scallops in international waters) and chose to throw large stones at the British boats and crews (breaking some windows in the UK fishing boats) and (dangerously) shot flares across the decks of a British fishing vessel.

It needs to be said again, that the British fishers were operating legally in international waters and following all EU and UK laws.

French law has only the power to restrict French scallop fishermen and fisherwomen — and the actions of the French crews aren’t acceptable in a civilized world.

If French fishers have a problem with French law… they need to take it up with the government of France. Full Stop! (Arrêt complet!)

Yet Another Reason to Exit the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)

If UK fishers are expected to follow all relevant EU laws (and they do) but French fishermen aren’t expected to follow all relevant EU laws (and they don’t — that’s now proven by these latest acts of violence and intimidation) how is that fair to the British?

Fishing in UK Waters

When EU and UK fishers operate in British waters they must follow all relevant EU and UK laws even if they must toss millions of tonnes of dead fish overboard every year — because under EU law — if the fish are not of a certain size they must be thrown back (dead or alive) into the water. Which has a devastating effect on the UK fishery and the larger North Sea fishery. How could it not?

And French (or other EU boats) are never attacked by UK fishermen in international waters nor in UK waters…

Fishing in International Waters

Yet for some reason, French fishermen feel they have the right to threaten and assault UK fishers and damage British fishing vessels that are operating legally in international waters.

That’s a stark difference in mindsets between UK fishers and French fishers…

And it’s called ‘entitlement’.

French fishers feel they can assault UK fishers because they feel ‘entitled’ to do so — even though the UK boats were operating in international waters and were following all relevant fishing laws of the EU and the UK.

It’s certainly not the fault of UK fishers that the French government banned French fishers from scallop fishing from May 15 to October 15!

Feelings of ‘entitlement’ by French fishermen and fisherwomen is perhaps symptomatic of a larger problem throughout the European Union; EU citizens feel ‘entitled’ while UK citizens feel they themselves must always follow the law. See the difference in mindsets?

Perhaps it’s just one of many reasons that the first time Britons got a chance to vote on EU membership they voted to Leave… but I’m sure that reasoning (causality?) was lost on those French fishermen during the heated exchange at sea.

Let’s hope the UK fishers take the French fishers/vandals to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and that damages are awarded to the innocent UK fishers. If not, we’ll know that the EU doesn’t practice what it preaches…

French Election: A de facto Referendum on Frexit?

by John Brian Shannon

French voters heading to the polls on Sunday may notice that public opinion has been shifting in recent days towards Frexit. Even Emmanuel Macron the ‘establishment’ candidate hints that Frexit might be in the cards if the EU doesn’t reform.

Emmanuel Macron warns EU it must change or France will make swift Frexit (The Sun)

Marine Le Pen continues to gain in the polls and with only days to go before the vote, one wonders what would happen if the vote were a month on? Probably a Le Pen victory if the present trend continues.

Alas, the vote will be held on May 7, not June 7, but it shows how voter preferences are changing as each day passes.

Latest French Election Polls: Le Pen Gains on Macron (Newsweek)

Still, a threat to leave the EU coming from an establishment candidate for the French presidency is shocking, as was the violence on the streets of Paris, a.k.a. the City of Love.

Could a new French president influence the Brexit process?

If Marine Le Pen is elected, the EU will face two nations with plans to leave the Union — Britain and France.

On the other hand, if Emmanuel Macron is elected (and if the EU won’t agree to the changes requested by Macron) it seems likely Frexit will occur anyway.

Back to the effects of the French election on the UK;

In the case where the United Kingdom (alone) leaves the EU, all of the hurt, anger and blame felt by the jilted party (the EU Parliament) will be focused on UK voters and their political leaders.

But in the case where both Britain and France decide to leave the EU, the Union may have no choice but to accept that the democratic deficit in Brussels is to blame — and all of the hurt, anger and blame will be directed at Brussels by the EU bloc leaders.

And if that occurs, some necessary changes might actually occur. Although two of their best horses (Britain and France) will have already left the stable.

As traumatic as it might be, that’s what it might take for the un-democrats in Brussels to change their ways.

My view is that Emmanuel Macron will win the French presidency in the May 7th election, that the EU will not offer the changes necessary for France to remain in the Union, and that Marine Le Pen will win the 2022 election and take France out of the European Union shortly thereafter.

‘The one constant in the cosmos is change’

Let’s hope EU leaders realize the profound truth of that truism and decide to make the changes necessary for France to stay in the European Union. Otherwise, even bigger changes are coming for continental Europe. Mon Dieu! Quoi de neuf?

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