The States have agreed to accept the UK / EU trade deal – beginning a new chapter in the Island’s relationship with its nearest neighbour.
By agreeing that Jersey is included in the deal, goods exported from the Island into Europe will not be subject to financial tariffs. It also means that Jersey will be solely responsible for the management of its territorial waters, which stretch out to 12 miles.
The deal only covers goods so does not cover services, including the finance industry. However, in signing the deal, the UK has also pledged to sign a separate declaration with the EU on harmful taxation.
In today’s debate, External Relations Minister Ian Gorst said he was confident that such a declaration was compatible with existing tax-related assurances that Jersey has made and agreements it has signed up to.
When it comes to the trade deal, the most important – and controversial – aspect concerned fishing and Jersey's relationship with France. Currently, Jersey boats have always had exclusive access out to three nautical miles but the zone between three and 12 miles has been jointly managed with France under the 20-year-old Granville Bay Agreement, but that deal will be superseded by the trade deal on 1 January.
Pictured: there will now be a 90 day cooling off period, so that the full detail of the legal text can be scrutinised.
However, it is not as simple as Jersey being able to do what it likes within its territorial waters from Friday. Any measure or restriction it places on EU boats – in all reality, French boats operating out of nearby ports such as Carteret and Diélette – must also apply to Jersey fishermen.
However, Jersey is now the sole licencing authority for boats fishing commercially within its waters. While boats which already fish with a licence issued under the Granville Bay Agreement get to keep it, they must prove that they have used it for at least ten days per year in the three years to last January, when the UK left the EU.
This will mean that any fisherman or business that has sat on a licence, with no track record of its use, will lose it.
Jersey will also be able to limit licences or restrict fishing in certain areas if stocks are too low. This has to be based on solid scientific research and not discriminate against any party.
Pictured: differences between Jersey and Guernsey in the arrangements for fishing could still prove an issue
In recognition of the 11th-hour nature of the deal, Jersey has been given a three-month ‘cooling off’ period from 1 January to properly review the full legal text of the agreement, which was only unveiled late on Christmas Day.
Both the government and Scrutiny will now pore over its 1,246 pages. If either side concludes that there is an unpalatable problem in the detail, there will be another States debate. The Assembly then can choose to reject the deal.
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The States Assembly has voted to APPROVE the Council of Ministers’ Proposition, as amended. This means that Jersey will be included in the UK-EU Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement. Find out more here: https://t.co/guXaEjWevp pic.twitter.com/LKId7bL6Ap
— States Assembly (@StatesAssembly) December 27, 2020
External Relations Minister Ian Gorst said: “Ministers have considered the overall impact upon Jersey, in accordance with the key principles agreed at the beginning of the transition period.
“These principles look to promote and preserve Jersey’s international reputation and constitutional autonomy, as well as to protect and pursue the continuation of our trade flows and market access to safeguard our current trading and cultural relationships, and to provide stability for businesses and citizens.
“On the basis of the summary terms, we believe that, on balance, Jersey’s interests would be best served by participation in the trade deal."
After more than six hours of debate, Members unanimously backed signing up to the UK-EU trade deal. Guernsey and Sark have also agreed it.
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