Guernsey and Scotland in talks as EU stability sought
Guernsey has confirmed that it has spoken to Scotland about its future, as it seeks to be seen as a ‘safe haven’ for financial services following the UK’s vote to leave the EU.
Guernsey’s chief minister, deputy Gavin St Pier, revealed in statement released by the Islands, following a proposition passed by Guernsey’s elected representatives on Wednesday, to enable the Island’s Policy and Resources Committee to negotiate with the UK Government, that talks on the matter had been taking place with Scotland, as well as the chief ministers of the other Crown Dependencies.
St Pier confirmed that a phone call had taken place with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who, according to the statement, said that she wants to maintain dialogue with Guernsey throughout the exit process.
“We have much better connections with Whitehall, Westminster, Brussels and other jurisdictions in 2016 than we had in 1972 [the year of the accession of the UK to the EEC],” said St Pier. “We have invested in our relationships which will assist us in the coming weeks, months and years.
‘Increasingly unstable world’
“In what seems like an increasingly unstable world we are, and I am confident will continue to be, seen for what we are; an oasis of stability – a safe haven. We are a safe haven for financial services – in or out of the EU – and we are a safe haven physically for those who want to relocate here – or even just holiday here in peace and quiet.”
Earlier this week, as reported, Jersey also confirmed that it was looking at all options, that could also include a possible severing of ties with the UK, following last Friday’s Brexit vote.
In his speech, St Pier outlined the vision to protect Guernsey’s interests during the UK exit from the EU, where following the speech, it was agreed to undertake the additional actions; replace Protocol 3; protect Guernsey’s constitutional relationship with the UK; look at, and take advantage of, new trading relationship opportunities
St Pier, along with the chief ministers of the other Crown Dependencies, has already written to the UK Prime Minister to highlight what the islands are seeking in terms of trading relationships. He has also spoken with Lord Faulks, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, who wished to reassure Guernsey that he and the Ministry of Justice would ensure that Guernsey’s position was properly represented.
“He [Lord Faulks] regarded this as part of his role and that of his department. He emphasised the importance of recognising and preserving our constitutional position,” said St Pier.
“Officers are also working closely with the UK Government and our Crown Dependency counterparts. The Prime Minister has also confirmed in his statement to the House of Commons on Monday, that the Crown Dependencies would need to be consulted – and this early recognition of our position is to be welcomed.”
Guernsey Finance chief executive Dominic Wheatley welcomed the clarity provided by St Pier on the steps Guernsey had already taken on the matter.
‘No third country change’ – Wheatley
“It is important that the Island’s finance sector continues to monitor developments closely, while at the same time recognising that while Protocol 3 makes us part of the Customs Union and within the Single Market for the purposes of trade in goods, for most services, such as financial services, we were already treated as a third country and that position has not changed as a result of Brexit,” said Wheatley.
“As Deputy St Pier says, Guernsey should be seen as an island of stability for financial services during this period of uncertainty.
“We already have an established third country relationship with the EU due to the fact that over a considerable number of years Guernsey has been able to demonstrate equivalence to EU standards and there is no reason to suggest that existing market access rights will be impacted,” he added.