20 April 2021
Guernsey and Jersey have attended a virtual annual political summit with the departmental council of Ille-et-Vilaine to review ways in which the three jurisdictions have been working together, under a cooperation agreement that was signed in 2017 and renewed in 2020 for a further three years.
Jersey has enjoyed sixteen years of joint working with one of its closest neighbours, Ille et Vilaine. Guernsey officially joined the partnership in 2017. The cooperation agreement facilitates joint working in a number of areas, including education and youth mobility, culture and arts, as well as transport, and trade. It also enables discussions to take place on strategic issues such as the impact on the Channel Islands and the port of St Malo of the UK's departure from the EU. In addition to the topics covered by the cooperation agreement, the Prefecture of Brittany attended the annual summit as an observer.
At the virtual summit, the departmental council of Ille et Vilaine was represented by its President, Jean Luc Chenut; Jersey was represented by the Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré and Minister for External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst; and Guernsey was represented by Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, member of the Policy and Resources Committee with responsibility for external relations. The Prefecture of Brittany was represented by the Préfet of Brittany, Emmanuel Berthier.
Senator John Le Fondré said: "The Minister for External Relations and I had been hoping to attend the summit in person this year, given we were not able to attend in 2020. However, despite the ongoing difficulties that COVID-19 presents, we are pleased that we were still able to engage with our colleagues in Guernsey and France virtually.
"This partnership, now celebrating its sixteenth year, shows how effective ongoing and lasting neighbourly cooperation can be, and demonstrates the importance of working together for the benefit of our communities.
"Whilst all of us will continue to face challenges ahead, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of the UK's departure from the EU, I am confident that our well-established economic, social and cultural relationships will continue to be of immense value in the months and years ahead".
Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq said: "It was a pleasure for me to attend the annual summit of the governments of Guernsey and Jersey and the authorities of Ille-et-Vilaine, following the renewal of the cooperation agreement in 2020. Guernsey has important social and cultural links with the region of Brittany, and the department of Ille-et-Vilaine in particular. The cooperation agreement that we have allows us to build on and strengthen these links as well as to discuss new areas for potential joint working with some of our closest neighbours. The meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss our regional relationship in the context of the UK exit from the EU and our commitment to the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement following the end of the transition period.
"The past year has been difficult for all our jurisdictions as we have worked work hard to respond to the impact of COVID-19, but it has reinforced the importance of working with our closest neighbours and strengthening the relationships that we have. As we move towards a gradual reopening of our borders in Guernsey and a wider reconnection set out in the Bailiwick Blueprint, I look forward to the further development of projects under this cooperation agreement that will benefit all of us."
Président Jean Luc Chenut said: "It is with pleasure that I discussed today with our partners of the Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, in the presence of Emmanuel Berthier, Prefect of Ille-et-Vilaine, on the occasion of the annual summit between the Departmental Council Ille-et-Vilaine and the Channel Islands
"For the second consecutive year, this meeting is taking place by videoconference, due to the health context. The deployment of the vaccination campaign on the continent paves the way, in the short term, for a way out of the crisis which has sharply reduced exchanges with our European partners for over a year. However, it has in no way diminished the strong relationship that unites us with our neighbours in Jersey and Guernsey.
"Even more, I am convinced that in the face of the challenges that we will have to face tomorrow, we will have to count on our partners in Europe and in the world. In this sense, I hope that we can continue and consolidate the fruitful and dynamic collaboration between our territories."