Wednesday 29 March 2017
As the triggering of Article 50 signals the start of formal Brexit negotiations, officials with responsibility for leading talks on behalf of the Bailiwick of Guernsey are confident that good lines of communication with the UK will remain open.
Following the release of two supportive reports in the last week, from the House of Lords EU Committee and the House of Commons Justice Committee, and a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May committing to working with the islands on policy priorities throughout the Brexit process, the Bailiwick is well-placed to ensure it receives a deal at least on par with what the UK agrees.
Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, Policy & Resources Committee lead on external affairs, said the UK had so far backed up the commitment it made after the EU referendum to engage with the Crown Dependencies.
"Good channels of communication have been established and we have received very positive assurances from the UK Government. We are committing the resources we need to ensure this work continues and are confident that whatever new deal the UK achieves, Guernsey should have access to those same terms. There are obviously threats, the uncertainty at the moment is the biggest one, but with every threat is opportunity. For example we can potentially enter new trading relationships that we have been unable to take part in before. The UK will gain a new set of trade policy tools that it did not have control of before - that is what seeking the extension of the UK's World Trade Organisation membership all is about. While there is uncertainty, now is also the time for positivity. Yes there are challenges ahead but we will rise to it and seek to ensure that opportunities are grasped."
The Committee for Home Affairs has responsibility for the immigration system and administering the customs regime.
Deputy Mary Lowe, President of the Committee for Home Affairs, said maintaining the free movement of people via the Common Travel Area is a priority for the Crown Dependencies and the UK.
"Our immigration and nationality regimes are tied to the UK. We are part of the CTA, we are British and the relevant UK Acts of Parliament have been extended to underpin this. Guernsey, like the UK, also wants to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the islands, and we would like to see the rights of British nationals in the EU maintained. This will be a priority area of work for the UK and Guernsey.'"
Deputy Lowe said the States of Guernsey also shared the same objective as the UK on customs matters.
"When Protocol 3 goes, which is when the UK leaves the EU, we will be leaving this customs area. This is not the same as when Article 50 is triggered. It will be up to two years from now. It is not known what new trading and customs arrangement may be put into place - this will be subject to negotiation. Our objectives are the same as the UK, to try and seek frictionless trade with the UK and with the EU to minimise trade barriers."
Jo Reeve, Director of International Relations and Constitutional Affairs, for the Office of the Policy & Resources Committee said:
"The support and engagement of the States of Deliberation in setting the objectives last June has helped the island develop a clarity of message in order to ensure UK Government understands how Guernsey should fit in to these negotiations. We can be confident that as the exit process formally commences the States has positioned itself to be to party in the decisions that lie ahead."