25 January 2019
Representatives from Guernsey and Jersey made an official visit to Paris this week for a series of political meetings with key ministries of the French national government, as well as members of the French National Assembly and the Senate. The Channel Islands delegation was led by Member of the Policy & Resources Committee (States of Guernsey) with responsibility for External Relations, Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, and the Minister for External Relations (Government of Jersey), Senator Ian Gorst.
The delegation held productive meetings at the Ministry for Economy and Finance, and at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, including with Minister for European Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau. They were welcomed to Paris by Philippe Gosselin, President of the French National Assembly’s Study Group on the Channel Islands, and other members of the parliamentary group from across the Assembly. Meetings also took place with French Senators including the Chair of the European Affairs Commission, Jean Bizet, former Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Stéphane Travert, and Chair of the Law Commission and former President of the departmental council of La Manche, Philippe Bas.
The meetings provided an opportunity to increase awareness amongst key stakeholders in Paris of the Channel Islands’ position and priorities in relation to the UK’s upcoming departure from the European Union. Discussions covered topics including maritime matters and territorial seas, the important regional links that exist with Normandy and Brittany, and efforts to enhance relations with the central administration in Paris. Ministers highlighted the Channel Islands’ desire to maintain positive relationships with France and its other European partners, and to continue our close co-operation in a wide range of areas.
Guernsey and Jersey have cooperation agreements in place with Normandy-La Manche and the department of Ille et Vilaine in Brittany to promote greater partnership working between the jurisdictions. These regional agreements support the development of relations with the national administration in Paris, and are important in demonstrating the strength of the Channel Islands’ close historic ties with France.
Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq said: “Guernsey has important regional links with Normandy and Brittany, which are supported through our cooperation agreements which have been in place for a number of years. These cooperation agreements recognise and support the existing historic, social, cultural and economic links that we have with our closest neighbours.
“As the uncertainty surrounding the manner of the UK’s exit from the EU and the potential future relationship continues, it is more important than ever that Guernsey works to build on these regional relationships and strengthen our direct engagement with the EU, in particular France, to ensure that our constitutional position is understood and to enable us to develop closer links in areas where we share common interests. We do all this of course alongside our sister Bailiwick, Jersey, with whom we share permanent representation in France through our Bureau des Îles Anglo-Normandes based in Caen, as our interests are greatly aligned in these areas.”
Senator Ian Gorst said: “Jersey has long-held strong political, cultural, and economic links with France, and it is vital that we continue to develop these close ties with our nearest neighbour. This visit provided an important opportunity for us to engage with the French government and French parliamentarians, and to promote the interests of the Channel Islands, together with our counterparts from Guernsey.
“We held valuable discussions about the extensive regional co-operation between the Channel Islands and France and our shared commitment that this work continues, irrespective of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union. Our engagements also provided a welcome opportunity to strengthen Jersey’s relationships at a national level with key interlocutors in Paris, and as we navigate these uncertain times, I am confident that the Channel Islands will continue to enjoy a productive ongoing relationship with France.”