Minister calls for closer ties with EU’s ‘best ally’
Senator Ian Gorst described the EU as “Jersey’s best ally” in the ongoing dispute over the recognition of historic fishing rights under the new trade and economic cooperation agreement.
“We have to make sure that, even if we use the institutional mechanisms of the trade agreement, we have to build and develop this direct relationship with the EU. We did this because our interests are best served by having this positive relationship and presenting our case to them directly, ”said Senator Gorst.
The minister’s comments come after British MP Andrew Rosindell, who chairs the Channel Islands all-party parliamentary group, criticized the tactics of ‘blatant aggression’ and ‘harassment’ deployed by French politicians during the dispute. (Full story: page 8.)
And in today’s weekend essay, the former bailiff, former foreign minister and constitutional law expert Sir Philip Bailhache argues that the recent fishing dispute is proof of the state ‘ “ dismal ” relations with Jersey’s closest neighbors.
“This sad interlude is further proof, if at all, of the desirability of Jersey to assume greater responsibility in the conduct of its own foreign affairs,” he said. “The current nonsense of communications from Normandy sent to Paris for transmission to Brussels and then to London before arriving at Saint-Hélier is almost designed to create misunderstandings.
He added: “This is a regional issue and disagreement and needs to be resolved locally. Neither London nor Paris, and certainly not Brussels, have any real interest in fishing Granville Bay, except, perhaps, as a proxy battle over Brexit.
Senator Gorst said the licensing disagreement – which resulted in the recent blockade of the port by French fishermen – had effectively brought Jersey into a larger Brexit argument on the minds of some in France, and he pointed out the larger context of the disagreement.
“The UK has given us their full support, but we in Saint Helier have to be aware that the UK has its own issues with the fishery and the French, so we have to be very, very careful. It seems strange that a minister from Jersey is saying that our best ally in this area is the EU, but I think that’s because the UK potentially has issues with France, fisheries and the EU, and they want a result of that, ” he said. .
With technical negotiations between Jersey, UK, France and EU officials slated for next week, Senator Gorst said one of Jersey’s advantages is its size, which allows it to ” take a “ more personal approach ” to try. to resolve some of the issues related to the historic rights of French fishermen.
He rejected comments from French Maritime Affairs Minister Annick Girardin – who criticized the Jersey government for speaking directly with French fishermen – arguing rather than working together they could solve some of the problems associated with the proof of the French right to fish in local waters.
He said: ‘I don’t think it’s helpful at all to say that we shouldn’t be communicating directly with fishermen. It was not in the trade agreement, I accept that. But I think it has value because maybe we can work with individual fishing licenses and resolve these issues individually, boat by boat.
He added that he was disappointed that relations with Norman politicians, who closed the Maison de Normandie in Saint-Hélier, had been affected by the disagreement and he described the continuation of the dialogue as “ part of the key of the answer ”.
In a bid to defuse the current dispute, the Jersey government extended the previous amnesty for French boats for two months, but Senator Gorst said negotiations would likely become more complicated when the new licensing regime was applied to boats. smaller, which form the bulk of the local French fishing fleet.
He declined to engage on whether he would support a further extension of this deadline by the Minister of the Environment, but rejected the proposal to extend until the end of September with a return to the approach. of the Granville Bay Accord, as suggested by Ms. Girardin.
Senator Gorst is the subject of today’s Saturday interview on pages 10 and 11.