As the threat of the French continues to loom over our shores we must ensure that they remain a close but manageable friend with little leverage over our island.
We should of course seek to renew, rejuvenate and repurpose our relationship with our gateway to Europe but we must be cautious and substantial ground work will be needed before we can consider placing further trust in The French.
Recent events with The Minister of the Sea threatening our islands electricity supply has if nothing shown us the erratic and militant behaviour of French politicians.
Although I very much doubt EDF would breach their contract over a fishing dispute, it certainly didn’t deter the Minister of the Seas threatening it. With no apparent opposition from senior French politicians, we can only assume they condone her behaviour and contempt for our island.
Nous sommes aux côtés des pêcheurs dépendant d'un accès aux eaux britanniques. Nos voisins imposent des critères n'appartenant pas à l'accord post-#Brexit. Le droit est formel, les conventions doivent être respectées. Nous veillerons à ce que l'accord signé fin 2020 le soit. pic.twitter.com/vVoEW6duO3— Annick Girardin (@AnnickGirardin) May 4, 2021
Video: The Minister of the Sea's threat to cut Jersey's electricity.
This speaks to a lack of close relations with our closest neighbour and where their officials may appear to be utterly unreasonable and bordering on audacious and militant. Perhaps we have simply not invested substantial time and focus into the relationship to ensure relations remain calm and collected.
This raises the question of how effective has the Environment Minister with responsibility for the island's fisheries been in understanding the position of a crucial stakeholder to the success of sustaining our waters? Perhaps we need a 'Minister of Neighbouring Jurisdictions' for him to report to, as he seems to lack the diplomatic “midas touch” for smooth sailings.
Jersey must continue to forge strong international bonds, as we are only ever one Minister of the Seas away from “retaliatory measures”!
In recent years, I have been pleased to see that Jersey appears to have made headway on the international relations front with a Bilateral Investment Treaty being negotiated with the UAE amongst building a community network and business matching initiative, a positive development that can only further Jersey’s place on the international stage.
Pictured: Jersey and the UAE have been working together to form a Bilateral Investment Treaty - an agreement setting out the terms of trade between the pair.
We must vary our interests across jurisdictions and we must be willing to learn and open dialogue where we have inroads. We are fortunate that our state-owned entity and international player in the 'Internet of Things' (IoT) space JT has acquired a Danish IoT company in recent years. This means we have an entity from which we can open up meaningful conversations to Denmark, the 'most digital' country in Europe.
These are but few examples of international relations that our island could further and should further.
The French may be our closest neighbour and they are our gateway to Europe, but they are by no means the power holders the Minister of the Seas makes them out to be.
Jersey punches above its weight in numerous arenas - if the French choose to further erode our trust then we should further divert and diversify our interests through international ties and continue to thrive.