The Government is aiming to make France, Germany and Ireland ‘key partners’ for Jersey in the post-Brexit world.
In seeking opportunities that arise from Jersey’s changing relationship with the EU, it also wants to strengthen relationships with countries that already have communities in the Island, especially Portugal, Poland and Romania, and make ‘new friends’ with the Netherlands, Switzerland and the Faroe Islands.
Achieving this post-Brexit vision will be helped by the creation of a new three-person EU Engagement Team, tasked with liaising with governments across the continent.
Addressing an online conference on Jersey ‘Beyond Brexit’, Tom Wherry, the Government's Head of European Relations, said: “I would argue that the EU have a better understanding than they have ever had before about Jersey’s position.
“Our politicians have never spoken to regional and national politicians in Europe more than they do today. We haven’t, since 1972, had such an opportunity to reset our relationship with Europe that we currently have.
Pictured: Tom Wherry, the External Relations Department’s Head of European Relations.
“The exit of the UK from the EU means we have to invest more in our own relationship with Europe. In terms of enhancing our bilateral relationships, a key partner is obviously France, where we are looking to strengthen ties at a regional and national level.
“We are working with the British Embassy in Paris, the French Embassy in London and organisations in Jersey to look at the business relationships and cultural ties we have.
“We have been specifically looking at Rennes, which is a thriving city close to Jersey, and air links and freight capacity between Jersey and St Malo. We would also love to see more French brands in Jersey and Jersey brands in France. We recognise the challenges over fishing but with our office in Caen, we actually have quite a stable relationship with France.
“We also have some really strong diplomatic ties with Germany and with the German ambassador scheduled to visit in 2021, we see more opportunities there.
“Jersey’s response to the Covid pandemic has really been noted by the international community - for example, together with the Polish government, we put on the first ever flight between St Peter and Warsaw to get people home to their families.
Pictured: The Dutch government is helping the Infrastructure Department to develop the Island’s cycle network.
“And of course, thousands of Portuguese now call Jersey their home and we have a thriving community. Foreign governments really notice this and it endears them to Jersey and shows them what we’re all about. We are hoping to grow education and business connections built on these existing communities.
“And we are looking to speak to new friends about new opportunities. The Dutch government, for instance, is now helping our Infrastructure department to look at ways in which we can develop our cycle network,
“We also have a lot in common with Switzerland when it comes to financial services. And we look at similar governments around Europe: the Faroe Islands has a similar relationship with Denmark as we do with the UK, yet they have a very substantial international trading network. A visiting delegation last year really inspired us when it came to future trade links.
“There are clearly challenges but there are also many opportunities to be had in Brexit.”
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