Twinning: A plot to bring us into the EU?

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From Barrie Bertram

I NOTE the recent letter (August 12) from the Constable of St Helier, in which he expressed his indignation at my earlier comments on town twinning. If I may, I would like to make three points.

First, the Constable is absolutely correct in pointing out that a group visit made as part of an exchange visit will bring additional money into the Island’s retail sector.

But, there is a reverse side to the coin in that a reciprocal visit will see monies ‘lost’ to that sector. The likely overall net effect is that the benefits are broadly neutral, give or take a few pfennigs or sous.

Secondly, cultural, sporting and similar such exchanges have gone on in the Island for many years, thanks to the many excellent and diverse local non-political organisations that flourish in Jersey, and without recourse to a town being twinned with any of the parishes.

Such exchanges were never created originally as a by-product of the town twinning process.

Lastly, I was obviously a little too tongue in cheek for the Constable’s taste with regards to politicians and junkets.

Setting aside the issue of ‘wine and nibbles’, town twinning has been taken over by the body politic and nowhere more so than in Brussels by the European Union.

The Constable made no reference to it, so he is undoubtedly unaware that the Union’s Executive Agency for Education, Audio Visual and Culture has, and I paraphrase only slightly, ‘…a programme called Europe for Citizens, whose aim is to bring Europe closer to its citizens and to enable them to participate fully in the European construction.

‘Through this programme, citizens have the opportunity to be involved in transnational exchanges and co-operation activities, contributing to developing a sense of belonging to common European ideals and encouraging the process of European integration.’

Again, I can only quote the agency’s own words for what it describes as ‘Action 1, Measure 1’ of its programme, where it states that ‘….town twinning has a rel potential to enhance mutual understanding between citizens, fostering a sense of ownership of the European Union and finally developing a sense of European identity.’

One is left to wonder whether the principles of European ideals, integration and identity are being inadvertently foisted upon a parish, and, indeed, the whole of an Island that chooses to exist outside of the Union, and yet without due public acknowledgement that these principles are explicit in town twinning.

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