French talks include focus on passports

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STRONGER links between Jersey and France, including transport connections and interest in the Island from a French hotel operator, were discussed when a leading politician from Normandy visited the Island.

La Manche region president Jean Morin held talks with Jersey politicians including Chief Minister Kristina Moore, External Relations Minister Philip Ozouf and Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel as part of his trip last week.

Mr Morin described the discussions as ‘rich’, covering topics of common interest such as passports, cultural and agricultural exchanges and fishing.

Deputy Morel, who had met Mr Morin when he came to Jersey for the Corn Riots Festival in 2021, said there were already indications that stronger links could be mutually beneficial.

He said: ‘The relationship has already led to one conversation with one French business in the hotel sector, who I hope will be visiting Jersey soon.’

Deputy Morel said he also hoped to progress discussions with French retailers who might be looking to expand into Jersey – this would have a positive effect on the resilience of the Island’s supply chain, which was currently very reliant on the UK, he added.

Another aim cited by Deputy Morel was to explore whether a solution could be found to allow French day-trippers easier access to Jersey after post-Brexit rules left most requiring a passport in order to travel.

‘We have lost 80% of our day-trippers, which is costing the Island a lot of money,’ he said. ‘We need to look at whether we can find a pragmatic solution, such as the one we have for French schoolchildren who are able to use identity cards.’

Building a strong relationship with ferry operator Manche Iles Express was another agenda item – Deputy Morel said this could strengthen links to France, but also achieve greater connectivity between the Channel Islands.

Talks also took place between Mr Morin and the local branch of the Assemblée Parlementaire de la Francophonie, an international organisation bringing together parliamentarians from countries where French is spoken.

Deputy Montfort Tadier, president of the Jersey branch, said he had been pleased to meet Mr Morin for the first time and that he felt it was important for the Island to actively engage with its French neighbours.

He said: ‘Jersey is at a crossroads in terms of relationships with Normandy and Brittany, some of our links have dropped away and I think it’s important to show that the Island isn’t entirely English-speaking and English-facing.’

Deputy Tadier said that while some of the issues resulting from Brexit, including stricter passport controls, were not directly within Jersey’s control, he hoped that improved connectivity would be one of the small factors that could make a positive difference.

‘It used to be possible for Islanders to make day trips to France on most weekends during the summer, but the timetable hasn’t run in our favour for some time,’ he said.

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