Displaying items by tag: France

Wednesday, 15 December 2021 21:02

France threatens UK with lawsuit over fishing dispute

France and Britain have clashed repeatedly over migrants crossing the Channel, post-Brexit trade arrangements, the sale of submarines to Australia, and fishing territories. The fishing dispute has come to a head as France threatened the UK with a lawsuit unless a few dozen fishing licences are granted as a ‘gesture of goodwill’ before 10 December. The deadline expired without a breakthrough in talks, despite France's threat, and 104 French boats still lack licences to operate in British and Channel Island waters. Britain earlier denied discriminating against French boats, saying many of the vessels are unable to provide the paperwork required to qualify for a licence. ‘This is a technical process based on evidence rather than deadlines’, a UK government spokesman said. France's Europe minister Clement Beaune said, ‘If they stick to their guns, then we will ask the European Commission to begin a legal complaint’.

Published in Europe
Friday, 03 December 2021 09:48

France / England: people-smuggling industry

Days after 27 people drowned in the English Channel, the BBC discovered that smuggling gangs are still telling migrants it is safe to cross. One smuggler said that the drownings were a lie and that there was no danger in making the journey. The brutal journeys migrants make across the Channel are full of stories of crisis. Pray for the detection and removal of the guerrilla-style smuggling operations among the French dunes. Pray for authorities to have more compassion for the streams of soaking passengers washing ashore in Kent. Pray for this international criminal industry to be thwarted by even more sophisticated detection. Pray for an end to the supply of specially-made boats that refugees are packed into. New arrivals in French camps are given tips on how to find a people-smuggler. One young man from Afghanistan was told to look for ‘the Kurdish man’ hanging around during food distribution.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 25 November 2021 21:32

27 migrants drowned in Channel

Pregnant women and three children were among 27 Kurds from Iraq and Iran who drowned trying to cross the Channel. Two male survivors are being treated for exhaustion and hypothermia in a Calais hospital. A criminal investigation has been opened; five men are suspected of direct involvement in the attempted crossing. The bodies were brought by boat and helicopter to Calais, where volunteers with local migrant aid associations lit candles and held aloft placards reading ‘How many more?’ Despite the terrible loss of life, crossings have continued. The next morning forty migrants were brought to Dover by a lifeboat. It is windy on the water and extremely cold, but the determination to get to the UK remains as strong as ever. Boris Johnson said that there are ‘difficulties’ persuading France ‘to do things in a way that the situation deserves’; it was clear French attempts to stop the migrant boats leaving ‘haven't been enough’.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 28 October 2021 21:58

UK boat detained by France in fishing rights row

A British trawler was seized by France and another fined, in fishing rights arguments. The French checks on UK trawlers overnight are not part of the range of retaliatory actions announced in the post-Brexit row. But there is no doubt it is a message of what is to come. From 2 November British and Channel Islands fishing boats will not be allowed to offload fish at French ports. There will be intensified controls at Calais and other entry points for UK trade by ferry and tunnel. The French authorities will conduct a ‘grève de zèle’ (punctiliously looking for violations) on fish and other imports which will create long tail-backs to remind British subjects of the costs of go-it-alone. The UK government said the threat of sanctions was ‘not what we would expect from a close ally and partner’. The boat owner said his fishing activity for scallops was ‘entirely legal’.

Published in British Isles
Thursday, 21 October 2021 21:17

Channel smugglers are outwitting France and UK

People-smuggling networks in migrant camps are slick and organised. It took little more than a week for Hamid to find a people-smuggler in Calais. Within a couple of days, he was hiding near the beach with 75 others, waiting to cross the Channel in a small inflatable boat. Over 18,000 people so far this year have crossed the twenty miles of sea between Britain and France in small boats. Despite significant investment on both sides of the Channel, that's more than double the number last year. France's northern coastline is covered with dunes, foliage and hundreds of old WW2 bunkers where migrants can hide. High-security fencing and surveillance cameras now successfully protect the ports and Eurotunnel terminal, but surveillance is difficult among forested dunes. Hamid’s crossing cost £2,500, on top of the £7,275 he had paid to leave Afghanistan and cross Europe to France.

Published in Europe

A report has shown that the Church prioritised protecting the institution over victims who were urged to stay silent. The number of abused minors rises to an estimated 330,000 when including victims of people with other links to the Church, like Catholic schools and youth programmes. Between 2,900 and 3,200 abusers worked in the Catholic Church between 1950 and 2020, out of a total of 115,000 priests and other clerics. ‘The Church is the place where the prevalence of sexual violence is at its highest, other than in family and friend circles’, said the report, which found that children were also more likely to be abused within Church settings than in state-run schools or summer camps. This report follows similar ones from other countries.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 30 September 2021 22:39

France: fishing in UK waters

Three-quarters of small French fishing boats could be denied access to British waters under a post-Brexit regime in a move that risks further damaging Anglo-French relations. The UK government had granted only 12 out of a total of 47 applications for licences for the French vessels under 12 metres long to fish the UK’s inshore waters. France’s maritime minister, Annick Girardin, condemned the decision. ‘It is a new refusal by the British to implement the conditions of the Brexit agreement despite all the work we have done together. French fishing should not be taken hostage by the British for political ends.’ In May, France’s response to post-Brexit fishing restrictions around the island of Jersey was described as ‘pretty close to an act of war’ by fishing community leaders in St Helier. This week Jersey refused licences to 75 French fishing boats. The UK said it would consider further evidence to support remaining bids for fishing rights See

Published in Europe

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) star Neymar will receive €6.2 million (£5.28 million) a year if he avoids any ‘political or religious propaganda that could damage the image and unity of the club’. It is understood that Neymar will receive this money as part of an 'ethical clause' included in his contract with the Parisian club. The 29-year-old has previously made several references to his Christian faith. He grew up going to Peniel Baptist church in his native Sao Paulo, whose lead pastor Newton Lobato has revealed the footballer tithes around €18,000 every year. Neymar once said, ‘Life only makes sense when our highest ideal is to serve Christ’. He has received trophies wearing a headband stating ‘100% Jesus’.

Published in Europe
Thursday, 16 September 2021 21:30

France: Covid deadlines and demos

French healthcare workers now face suspension if they are not vaccinated against Covid-19. The demand affects all medical professionals and those working with vulnerable people (including nursing homes' non-medical staff). 86% of healthcare workers are fully inoculated, suggesting many are risking sanctions. Also a phased roll-out of a Covid pass has been introduced - attesting its holder had either been vaccinated, tested negative or recently recovered from Covid - to visit cultural and leisure venues, bars, restaurants, large events or use long-distance public transport. On 14 September 'Infringement of freedom' protests were held in Paris over these rules. Over 9,000 Covid-related hospitalisations did not deter protesters, whilst others showed up to vent their overall frustration with the tenure of President Emmanuel Macron. Over last weekend, in Paris alone, three different Covid-related demonstrations took place. See

Published in Europe
Thursday, 19 August 2021 21:38

France: new wildfires - thousands evacuated

Strong winds and hot weather are making it difficult to quell two fires in Aude and Vaucluse, causing the evacuation of 130 people. 300+ hectares have been burnt, in new breakouts injuring 132 firefighters. Forest fires covering 210 hectares have hit the south of France as a 7,000-hectare blaze near Saint-Tropez continues. People have died and others are missing in the blazes. On 17 August a fire restarted overnight in Beaumes-de-Venise, fanned by strong winds. Over 1,000 firefighters tackled a blaze in Var, where a man died in his house. A woman is reported missing after calling her family while surrounded by fire. Blazes have erupted in Bizanet and Narbonne, with 70-80kph wind gusts threatening more outbreaks.

Published in Europe
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