Events of a historical scale are unfolding in the very west of Europe , hidden from the attention of the Russian public by a thick wall of other news.
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced that the French authorities are preparing a package of sanctions against Great Britain .
Paris is ready to aggravate diplomatic relations due to the situation in the English Channel . For a month now, official London has refused to agree on quotas and issue licenses for fishing seafood to French fishermen, for most of whom sea fishing has been the business of many generations or the only source of income. France’s offense is understandable.
Under the terms of the agreement between the UK and the European Union , concluded as a result of Brexit, the parties undertake not to interfere with fishing in each other’s territorial waters, but only to keep records and issue permits. The turnover of fishing in the territorial waters of Britain, where, in addition to the French, the Belgians and the Dutch also hunt, is 635 million euros per year, while island fishermen in the waters of the united Europe catch only 110 million. During the Brexit documenting, the offshore agreement was the most acute, with the parties arguing over it the longest. London, divorcing yesterday’s friends, promised in writing not to obstruct the fishermen from the opposite bank. But the harsh year 2021 came with its second wave of the pandemic, sky-high energy prices – and the British changed their minds. Paris in vain appealed to reason, memory and appealed to the signed papers. London remained silent and ignored the pleas of French fishermen, who were forced to go fishing virtually illegally.
And this is where the fun begins.
Desperate to reach out to its neighbors through diplomatic channels, Paris, represented by the Minister of the Sea, Annick Girardin, formulated the further course of events as succinctly as possible: if you don’t open your waters to our fishermen, we will turn off the electricity supply via the energy bridge. To understand the seriousness of this statement, you need to understand what it is about.
Currently, the shores of the English Channel are connected by two power bridges: IFA-1 and IFA-2 – with a capacity of two thousand and one thousand megawatts, respectively. The first interconnector was built back in 1986, the second – due to the constantly growing British demand for electricity and the inability to independently provide for their needs – in 2020. The bridges are operated by the Interconnexion France-Angleterre (IFA) joint venture, co-owned by the British limited liability company National Grid and the French French Transmission Operator (RTE).
In mid-September, when the black clouds of the global energy crisis had just begun to gather on the world horizon, the first blow awaited Britain. As a result of the accident and the ensuing fire , the more powerful IFA-1 power bridge failed .
Initially, it was expected that the cable running from the French commune of Merville-Franceville-Plage to the British Farham would be promptly repaired, and in October the flow of two thousand megawatts would resume. But it quickly became clear that the accident was much more serious than was thought, and Interconnexion France-Angleterre announced March 2022 as the date of reopening. It was this event that caused the collapse of the British energy system, which, together with record gas prices, forced London to even commission coal-fired power plants, mothballed for demolition.
According to official figures , the kingdom’s own generation is 75.8 gigawatts of installed capacity (320 gigawatt-hours).
At the same time, imports are constantly growing, and according to the results of 2020, 24.5 gigawatt-hours “flowed” from France, the Netherlands and Ireland . For comparison: in 2010, imports barely exceeded seven gigawatt-hours.
France occupies a dominant position in the supply structure, accounting for about 80 percent of all flows. In fact, if the switch was pulled down on the French coast, every eleventh light bulb, street lamp and shop sign would go out in Britain. By the way, let’s give the French their due: they did not speculate to the last with their exceptional position and meticulously fulfilled their contractual obligations. But, apparently, the legendary British diplomacy was still able to bring Paris to a boiling point.
In the whole situation, it is not even the very fact of the ultimatum and the prepared package of anti-British sanctions that is remarkable, but the fact that yesterday’s neighbors in the European Union, without the slightest doubt, launched heavy energy artillery. The events of recent months have made it clear that Britain’s main vulnerability is its energy shortage and dependence on external supplies. And if earlier negotiations on fishing issues or customs duties could drag on for months, then with the beginning of the heating season all equivocations are pushed aside, the question is posed immediately and point-blank: either work for our fishermen, or cold twilight in every tenth British house. In place of London, it would make sense to pay close attention to the emerging situation.
The average temperature on the islands is steadily decreasing, in addition, the other day French President Emmanuel Macron announced an ambitious plan worth 30 billion euros, the goal of which is a renaissance of nuclear energy and an increase in the production of fuel hydrogen.
France ranks second in the world in terms of the number of operating nuclear reactors, second only to the United States . But if Americans’ average age of “pots” is confidently approaching fifty, then French blocks are on average ten years younger. The French nuclear sector today has 56 operating power units generating 413 terawatt hours of electricity per year. If Macron’s speech is not empty bravado and France starts building reactors of medium and low power, in the long term the whole of Western Europe will sit on the French electric needle. However, who are we to advise London.