16 July 2018
A joint Jersey-Guernsey visit to Brussels, which took place on Wednesday and Thursday of last week (11–12 July 2018), allowed two of the Islands’ senior politicians to discuss key issues with representatives of the three main EU institutions – the Council, the Commission, and the European Parliament.
Jersey’s Minister for External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst, and Deputy Gavin St Pier, Chief Minister of Guernsey, met the Permanent Representatives (Ambassadors) to the EU of France, Romania and Latvia as well as senior officials from the Permanent Representations of Finland and the UK to the EU.
In the Commission, the Ministers met the chiefs of staff of the EU Justice Commissioner, Vera Jourova - whose responsibilities include data protection and anti-money laundering - and of the UK Commissioner, Sir Julian King, who has responsibility for EU security policy.
In the European Parliament, the Ministers met two senior MEPs - Dr Wolf Klinz (Germany) and Ashley Fox (UK). The Ministers also met the Ambassador of Switzerland to the EU and the head of the Government of Gibraltar EU Office.
The meetings, organised by the Channel Islands Brussels Office, gave the Ministers the opportunity to discuss a range of issues, with a particular focus on Brexit and the ongoing EU Code of Conduct assessment process.
With the publication during the course of the visit of the UK government White Paper on the future relationship between the UK and EU, Brexit was at the forefront of all minds. Both Ministers reiterated the relative stability of the Islands’ relationship with the EU, emphasising that the Channel Islands are already outside the EU for most purposes. They also underlined the important contribution that EU nationals make to both Island economies and communities, and the shared commitment to preserving EU nationals’ rights.
Jersey’s Minister for External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst, commented: “From Jersey’s perspective, it is critical that our European neighbours understand the value we place on the contribution their nationals make to our Island. Up to 20% of our population is comprised of EU nationals, who provide an invaluable contribution to our community and economy. I was able to reassure our interlocutors that we have developed the Jersey EU Settlement Scheme to ensure their nationals have continued ability to remain in Jersey after Brexit.
“I particularly welcomed the opportunity to meet the new French Ambassador to the EU, and to underline the importance of the Channel Islands relationship with France, our nearest neighbour.
“It was also invaluable to meet with the Chief of Staff of EU Commissioner Jourova to update her on Guernsey and Jersey’s adoption of equivalent legislation to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Law Enforcement Directive (LED), as well as exchanging views on the shared objective of tackling money laundering and terrorist financing.”
The Chief Minister of Guernsey, Deputy Gavin St Pier, said: “The visit to Brussels was very well timed given political developments in the UK . We discussed with representatives from the EU27 the value we place on the ongoing relationship between Europe and the Channel Islands. We were able to provide reassurance about the work that we are undertaking in Brexit planning, as well steps to meet the commitments made to the EU Code of Conduct Group on Business Taxation.
"I particularly welcomed the opportunity to meet the Latvian Ambassador to the EU, to underline the particular importance for Guernsey of our relationship with Latvia, with Latvian nationals representing our second largest EU 27 community. It was particularly timely ahead of the visit to Guernsey on 16-17 July 2017 by the Latvian Ambassador to the UK.
"We also took the opportunity to meet the representatives of Romania and Finland, the countries that will hold the rotating EU Presidency in 2019, to discuss the main themes of relevance to Channel Islands interests that may feature during their presidencies.”