Opposition politicians want to pause the introduction of a treaty between the island and the United Arab Emirates as they push for the States Assembly to get a greater say in the details of deals between Jersey and other jurisdictions.
Reform Jersey leader Sam Mézec is looking for States Members' support in setting up a greater level of parliamentary consultation that would, he says, bring the island in line with countries such as Canada, Australia and the UK.
Deputy Mézec has lodged a proposition calling for a new process covering bilateral information treaties, which govern investment flows and are designed to protect investors.
He wants such treaties to be subject to full consideration and approval by the States Assembly before coming into force, as well as seeking a pause in bringing a treaty between the island and the United Arab Emirates into force.
Signed in November 2021 after more than three years of negotiations, the Jersey/UAE treaty was discussed by ministers on 20 December, with approval given to External Relations Minister Philip Ozouf to complete the necessary steps to bring the treaty into force.
Following briefings in January to the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel, and to other States Members, Deputy Ozouf published his intention – on 20 January – to bring the treaty into force after a notice period of 14 working days, which finishes tomorrow (Thursday 9 February).
Deputy Mézec said he believes the current process gives insufficient opportunity for elected Members to express their views and his proposition also calls for the Jersey/UAE treaty to be delayed until after the Assembly debates the matter.
In the report accompanying his proposition, Deputy Mézec states: "No instruction on how States Members may "raise views" has been given."
"Given the workload of the Assembly it is also likely that members may not read the details within the 14-day working day period and many may not be aware that the 14-day period is in effect or that it signifies any form of consent process."
Deputy Mézec said there was no provision within the Assembly's standing orders to cover the principle of "negative consent" – where a matter is considered to be approved in the absence of objections.
The report adds: "The period given by the minister does not give States Members sufficient time to lodge and get a proposition debated, and States Members do not currently have the same mechanisms available to question or object to a treaty as parliamentarians do in the UK, Canada or Australia."
The JEP and Bailiwick Express has asked the government whether it intends to proceed with bringing the UAE treaty into force before Deputy Mézec's proposition is debated and is awaiting a response. It is understood legal advice is being sought.
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