The Crown Dependencies are neither part of the EU nor of the UK. Nevertheless, they have a unique constitutional relationship both with the UK and, as encapsulated in Protocol 3 to the UK’s Treaty of Accession, with the EU. The consequences of Brexit for the Crown Dependencies are therefore significant.
There are three intertwined, and potentially conflicting, priorities for the Crown Dependencies in the context of the Brexit negotiations: maintenance of their centuries-old constitutional relationship with the UK; retention so far as possible of the benefits of the existing relationship between the Crown Dependencies and the EU; and the evolution of the Crown Dependencies’ international identities, while respecting the UK’s constitutional obligation to represent them in matters of defence and international relations. Seeking to keep these priorities in balance during the negotiation process will not be easy.
We note in particular the implications of Brexit for: the Crown Dependencies’ continued ability to trade freely in goods, including fisheries, agriculture and manufacturing, both with the UK and the EU; the financial services sectors in the Crown Dependencies; the ability to continue to attract EU citizens to live and work in the Crown Dependencies, while at the same time retaining the Common Travel Area between the Crown Dependencies and the UK; and existing data protection cooperation, transport and communication links, and energy cooperation between the Crown Dependencies and the EU.
The UK Government has a constitutional responsibility to represent the interests of the Crown Dependencies in the Brexit negotiations. The Chief Ministers of the Crown Dependencies have expressed their satisfaction at the Government’s engagement thus far in relation to Brexit. The real test of this engagement will come as negotiations begin. We call on the Government to ensure that the Crown Dependencies remain fully involved as negotiations proceed, and that their concerns and priorities are properly taken into account by the UK negotiators.
The Chief Ministers have made clear that the Crown Dependencies’ close constitutional, economic and cultural relationships with the UK remain paramount. It is therefore important that the terms of the future relationship between the Crown Dependencies and the EU do not undermine the Crown Dependencies’ relationship with the UK.
We urge the Government to reflect on the implications for the Crown Dependencies of the UK’s post-Brexit policy priorities. In particular, the Government must ensure that the Crown Dependencies are kept fully apprised of, and are given the opportunity where appropriate to participate in, future free trade agreements with countries beyond the EU. We also call on the Government to support Guernsey and Jersey in their efforts to ensure that the UK’s WTO membership is extended to cover them, as it already does the Isle of Man.
It remains to be seen if Brexit will prove a further impetus in the development of the Crown Dependencies’ international identities. The evolution of these identities is a matter for bilateral discussion and agreement between the Crown Dependencies and the UK Government. While taking into account any future developments, the UK Government must continue to fulfil its constitutional obligations to represent the interests of the Crown Dependencies in international relations, even where these differ from those of the UK, both during the Brexit negotiations and beyond.