Europe’s highest court has given France a 20 million euro fine plus an additional six-monthly penalty for persistently flouting EU laws.
It is the first time the European Court of Justice has ever imposed a lump sum as well as a periodic punishment on a member state.
The fine, which France will have to pay every six months until it has shown it is fully complying with EU fisheries laws, was set at 57.8 million euros.
In a statement, the court said the penalty was ordered in “light of the seriousness of the infringement and France’s ability to pay.”
The court and the European Commission have been battling Paris for nearly 15 years over how France would comply with EU fish conservation laws which ensure that its fishermen use correct net sizes and do not catch or sell undersized fish.