Entornointeligente.com / The Mont Orgueil Castle is seen behind an island flag at Gorey Harbour in Jersey, in this Feb 26, 2008 file photo. [Photo/Agencies] A threat by France’s maritime minister that the country could cut off electricity supplies to the island of Jersey in a row over post-Brexit fishing rights has been described as “disproportionate” by a senior Jersey politician.
Jersey is one of the Channel Islands, a group of islands off the coast of Northern France with a combined population of around 160,000, which are technically possessions of the British Crown with independent administrations, rather than being part of the United Kingdom, although their inhabitants are British citizens.
They were never part of the European Union, and there is no territorial dispute over the ownership of the islands, but post Brexit, as part of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, a new licensing system for French fishing vessels has been introduced by Jersey’s government.
These new arrangements have upset France, where around 95 percent of Jersey’s electricity comes from, via underwater cables, leading to the stand-off, but Jersey’s External Relations Minister Ian Gorst told the BBC the dispute was based on a “misunderstanding”.
“This is not the first threat that the French have made to either Jersey or the United Kingdom since we are into this new deal,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “It would seem disproportionate to cut off electricity for the sake of needing to provide extra details so that we can refine the licenses.”
French claims that what it calls “new technical measures” for fishing in waters around the Channel Islands, including rules on what equipment could be used, and limited numbers of days, were “null and void “as they had not been communicated to the EU, and as a result, the French department of Normandy had shut its office in Jersey’s capital St Helier, in the face of what it called “inexplicable conditions”.
France’s maritime minister Annick Girardin told the country’s parliament: “We are ready to use these retaliation measures … Europe, France has the means－that’s written in the deal.
“With regards to Jersey, I would remind you, for example, of electricity transmission by underwater cable. So, we have the means. Even if I would regret getting to that point, we will if we have to.”
Utility supplier Jersey Electricity tweeted that “following enquiries from our customers regarding the French fishing dispute, JE can reassure customers that in the unlikely event electricity supplies from France are disrupted”, local power facilities had adequate capacity.
Senator Gorst said relations were “entering a new era and it takes time for all to adjust.
“Jersey has consistently shown its commitment to finding a smooth transition to the new regime,” he added. “Most evidently by creating an interim arrangement to allow French fishermen time to submit their data.”
LINK ORIGINAL: Chinadaily