“As you know, the agreement provides for retaliatory measures and we are ready to use them,” Girardin told the French parliament.
Girardin also said that the Jersey government – which issued 41 fishing permits for French vessels on April 30 – imposed “unilateral” restrictions on trawlers.
“As for Jersey, I will remember, for example, the transportation of electricity by submarine cable,” he added. “We have resources at our disposal. And even if it is sad to get to that point, we will get there if necessary.”
The autonomous island of Jersey is one of the Channel Islands, located just 22.5 km off the French coast. Although technically not part of the United Kingdom, the islands are dependencies of the crown, defended and represented internationally by the government of the United Kingdom.
Jersey Electricity, the island’s main electricity supplier, says more than 95% of the electricity the island buys comes from France and is carried by submarine cables.
In a statement, Jersey’s foreign minister, Senator Ian Gorst, said the island was informed by France and the European Union “that they are dissatisfied with the conditions imposed on fishing licenses and fishing in general”.
“These complaints are taken very seriously and the government will respond in full,” said Gorst. “However, the Jersey Government has acted on the basis of legal advice, in good faith and with due regard to scientific and non-discriminatory principles at all stages of these procedures.”
He added that Jersey deplored the recent decision by French local authorities in neighboring Normandy to end their representation on the island, saying it was based on a “misunderstanding that can be corrected”.
“We want to heal the relationship as quickly as possible and we hope that the (Normandy authorities) will take the opportunity to reverse the decision,” said Gorst.
The United Kingdom and the EU reached a post-Brexit trade agreement on 24 December, which entered into force on 1 January, when Britain left the EU’s single market and customs union.
“It is important that we immediately condemn this measure, I did it with the (European) Commission, condemning the breach of the Brexit agreement,” said Girardin, warning that the Jersey measure “would set a dangerous precedent for access elsewhere.”
Girardin’s threat is reminiscent of the blockade of former French President Charles de Gaulle against the Principality of Monaco in October 1962, as part of a dispute over taxation.
According to files from the Assembly of France, the measure had a “psychological impact” on the local population, who feared the cut in water, gas and electricity supplied by France. The blockade lasted only a few hours.