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One Year to Brexit - Chief Minister's Statement

29 March 2018

A year from today, on Friday 29 March 2019, the United Kingdom will formally leave the EU, ending its 45 year membership of the union.

Whilst Islanders did not vote in the referendum on UK membership, we have been, and will continue to be, affected by the ramifications of Brexit. It represents one of the most fundamental challenges that Jersey has faced in a generation, requiring a critical analysis of our international priorities, relationships and legislation.

Before the referendum took place, we had already begun contingency planning, including for a leave vote. That work ensured that we were in a strong position when the result was announced, and were able to put into place the structures needed to make the policy, resource and legal changes necessary to protect Jersey’s interests. 

Early on, we publicly set out a series of key objectives, outlining our expectations for the negotiating process and for the outcome of Brexit for Jersey. We have refined and communicated these objectives as the negotiations between the UK and EU have progressed.

We want to maintain our fundamental relationship with the United Kingdom, including membership of the Common Travel Area, a Common Customs Territory and freedom of movement of capital.

We want to continue the benefits of our relationship with the EU, including access to the goods markets on the same terms as the UK, access to the EU financial services markets, and to secure the same deal as the UK for the movement of our British nationals in the EU.

And, we want to ensure that Jersey has the right agreements and international relationships to benefit from global opportunities, including strengthened relationships with non-EU global markets, an expanded network of international agreements, and entrustment to negotiate bilateral investment treaties between Jersey and key trading partners.

Our working relationship with the UK Government, which is fundamental to meeting these objectives, is open, strong and mutually respectful. Senior officials with responsibility for each of our six Brexit workstreams (Agriculture & Fisheries, Communications, Customs & Trade, Financial Services, Immigration and Transport) are in frequent contact with their UK counterparts, and meet on a regular basis in a roundtable setting.

In addition, I meet on a quarterly basis with Robin Walker MP, Minister at DEXEU, who has responsibility for engagement with the Crown Dependencies. Mr Walker has visited the Island twice in the past year. He and his department’s understanding of the complexities of the Island’s constitutional relationship, and our particular Brexit interests, has greatly aided the ease of our engagement, and I would like to thank him for his continued dedication to this work.

Our work with the UK Government has resulted in a public commitment by the Prime Minister to ensure that the interests of the Crown Dependencies are represented in Brexit negotiations, as well as the inclusion of the Channel Islands in the draft Withdrawal Agreement and associated transition arrangements, which were approved by the EU27 on 23 March 2018.

We have already successfully brought the first piece of Brexit-related legislation to the States Assembly. The European Union (Repeal and Amendment) (Jersey) Law was adopted on 6 March and is awaiting Royal Assent, allowing the States to swiftly implement changes to local EU-related laws.  The preparation of a series of secondary legislation is now underway, and these will be brought before the new States Assembly from June 2018, ensuring a smooth transition to Jersey’s new relationship with the EU.

Whilst we are making steady, positive progress, we cannot be blind to the complex challenges that will be faced by the Government in the coming year up to Brexit Day and through the transition period.

Ensuring that the Island has the right immigration and migration arrangements will be essential to our post-Brexit position, as will ensuring that we have the correct customs and trading arrangements.

I want to repeat the commitment I made to the EU citizens living and working in Jersey following the UK referendum. We value the important contribution you make to Island life. The UK has laid out plans to recognise the rights of EU nationals already living in the UK through a settled status scheme, and we will do the same.

We are also committed to protecting and enhancing our important agricultural and fisheries industries, on the basis that the current agricultural trade advantages provided by Protocol 3 will fall away as consequence of Brexit.

In the last few weeks we have begun to explore in detail the requirements of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic and any necessary changes the Island may need to make to meet EU roadworthiness criteria. We want to consider all options to ensure that Jersey meets the standards set out in the Convention and identify the right option for the Island.

However, our focus is not only on the challenges that we must address. As a government, we are looking carefully at the opportunities that Brexit presents to Jersey.

Whilst our most fundamental relationship remains the one we have with the United Kingdom, Brexit has encouraged the development of closer partnerships with our European neighbours. We have developed an intensive strategy of country engagement to ensure that we continue to build successful relations with EU Member States. 

2017 also saw the creation of the Global Markets Team within the Ministry of External Relations, which has made bold progress in a short timeframe to develop and implement a strategy for engaging with a number of priority global markets. This has included a series of successful Ministerial visits to Africa, USA, India and the Middle East.

Finally, we remain committed to engaging all stakeholders in our Brexit preparations, and will continue to provide regular, accessible information to the public and Island businesses as the negotiations progress.

I believe that the work we have undertaken has ensured that Jersey is in the strongest position possible as the countdown to Brexit Day begins. I would like to thank Ministerial colleagues and officials across government for their continued dedication to securing a successful and prosperous post-Brexit future for Jersey.

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