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Statement from the Minister for External Relations

20 January 2021

On the 1 January 2021, the UK-EU Trade & Cooperation Agreement (TCA) came into effect.

At the sitting of the States Assembly on the 27 December, Members unanimously affirmed the recommendation of the Council of Ministers that Jersey should participate in this agreement. The TCA is now the only workable basis on which Jersey can build on its relations with the EU and its Member States, including with respect to fishing in the Normano-Breton Gulf.

Following communication from the European Commission, via the UK, it has become clear that the transitional arrangements for relevant French vessels that were announced by Jersey in good faith – to give time to these vessels to take on board the requirements of the new arrangements – do not satisfy the strict legal requirements of the TCA. This has been addressed immediately.

As such, we have now moved away from the transitional arrangements we had communicated, and would have been happy to implement, and proceeded directly into the new licencing regime under the TCA. Officials in our Marine Resources department – as the relevant competent authority – are ready to swiftly issue licenses upon receipt of evidence from French vessels that they meet the criteria under the TCA.

Jersey will always uphold and implement its international obligations, and this includes the licensing commitments we made by agreeing to be part of the TCA. This is key to Jersey's reputation and to our relationships in France. Jersey will continue to work openly with Normandy and Brittany, and the national French Government, when implementing the licensing and management obligations under the TCA. Reciprocally, we expect the requirement to precisely implement the legal terms of the TCA to apply equally to all EU Member States.

In that regard, I would also like to provide assurance to our local fishing industry, amidst some issues surrounding the landing of their catch in French ports, that the Government recognises that this is a challenging time for our fishermen. We are therefore looking at ways to support the industry with meeting the new administrative requirements under the TCA to ensure its viability and sustainability in the immediate to longer-term. Work on the detail of this support is a priority and officers are liaising with industry to deliver as soon as practically possible. 

We will continue to engage with our fishermen and will provide as much information and support as we possibly can now that these new arrangements are in place. Where the terms of the agreement are met in respect of landings, we don't believe there should be any long-term issues, although we accept there may be some short-term issues that will be addressed

Jersey's objectives remain to strengthen relations and our friendship with France, especially in Normandy and Brittany, to conserve fishery resources in our waters and to ensure the prosperity of the local communities which depend for their well-being on access to a sustainable fishery resource in our waters. 

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