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How Brexit may affect us

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ALMOST three weeks after the UK was scheduled to leave the European Union, it is still unclear what form Brexit will take – or if it will happen at all...

There will be changes to how pets can travel to the EU

And despite the majority of Islanders not being able to vote in the 2016 referendum and Jersey not being part of the EU, the impact of the UK government failing to secure a deal could affect the Channel Islands in a profound way.

But what could Jersey look like post-Brexit and how would our way of life change?

Travel

Despite the Channel Islands not being part of the EU, ‘European Union’ has been printed at the top of Jersey passports for a number of years. However, in anticipation of the UK’s departure from the EU, newly-printed CI passports now do not feature this.

And, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Islanders travelling into Schengen countries (26 European states that have officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders) must ensure that they have at least six months remaining on their passport or risk being refused entry.

In 2018, technical notices released by France’s Senate revealed that Britons planning to visit the country would need to apply for a visa before travelling.

However, just days later President Emmanuel Macron moved to reassure tourists and said that the measure would not be introduced.

Pet travel

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Currently, any Islanders wishing to take their pets to Europe must ensure the animals have an EU pet passport, are microchipped, have a rabies vaccination and, for dogs, be treated for tapeworm. Pet owners must wait around 21 days following the rabies vaccination before travelling with their pets. When returning, owners must ensure their dogs have had a tapeworm treatment between 24 hours and 120 hours of their departure date.

But in the event of a no-deal Brexit the process could become more complex. Owners would need to have their pets vaccinated for rabies, wait 30 days, have their animal blood-tested to ensure the vaccination has been effective, then wait a further three months before the animal can be taken into the EU.

Ten days prior to entering the EU pets must also then have a vet check, along with the other re-entry requirements.

In the case of horses, in the event of a hard Brexit, they would have to travel through a border inspection post, one of which is being built in St Malo.

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Other rules apply to different animals. Full details are available at gov.je/travel.

Private vessels

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, anyone planning to take a non-commercial vessel to Europe must notify the port authorities of their arrival, who will then contact customs officials. Mariners would only be able to clear customs in a select number of ports, stopping them from travelling directly to ports such as Dielette in northern Normandy – unless in exceptional circumstances.

Full details are available at gov.je/travel/informationadvice on the ‘Private Marine Vessels’ section.

Trade

One of the sectors which could be hit hardest in Jersey by Brexit is the aquaculture industry. Currently, Jersey Oyster Company’s Normandy Trader vessel makes several trips a month to Granville to drop off its cargo of oysters.

However, if no deal can be reached, live shellfish from outside the EU would no longer be allowed to be shipped to Granville and the freight would need to go to another port, equipped with the correct type of border inspection post, instead. One of those posts is currently being built in St Malo at a cost of nearly one million euros.

Another business, Aqua-Mar Fisheries, currently ships tonnes of live shellfish to St Malo every week and, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, their products would need to pass through a border inspection post.

Trade tariffs

One issue worrying Jersey’s export businesses is potential trade levies which could be introduced in the event of no deal. Although Jersey is not part of the EU, it is part of the EU customs union.

Following Brexit, it is possible that the UK could continue trading with relatively low trade tariffs, thanks to its World Trade Organisation membership. This is something that Jersey’s government has not yet obtained but is keen to secure.

Supplies

One of the issues which has been the most concerning for many Islanders is the impact that a hard Brexit could have on freight shipments.

It is feared that if French ports begin carrying out more comprehensive post-Brexit checks, this could cause severe delays and tailbacks of trucks at major UK harbours on the other side.

This could push logistics providers to use other international ports such as Portsmouth, causing congestion and delaying shipments of essential supplies to the Channel Islands.

Before the current Brexit extension, Islanders were advised by the Chamber of Commerce to sensibly stockpile their own supply of essential goods as a result.

The Co-op has also signed a contract with the States which has seen the company partially re-open its ambient product storage warehouse used to store non-temperature controlled long-life items.

Mail

Currently, any mail heading to Europe first goes to the UK before being transferred onto trucks which then travel on trains through the Eurotunnel and into France.

However, Jersey Post is concerned that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the route could become much more congested and threaten the viability of e-commerce businesses based in the Island.

So, last month, the mail company ran a successful trial to ship Netherlands-bound mail direct to Europe through St Malo.

They are also examining the possibility of setting up an air-freight link with Rennes Bretagne Airport.

Labour shortage

One industry already being affected by Brexit is agriculture. Due to the drop in the value of the pound and the strengthening of Poland’s economy, farmers are now having to look outside Europe to fulfill their labour requirements.

Special dispensation is also being given to the Island’s hospitality industry which, this year, will offer 150 ten-month work permits to non-EU nationals.

Settled status

Regardless of whether the UK manages to secure a Brexit deal with the European Union or not, any EU nationals who wish to continue living and working in Jersey must apply for ‘settled status’. There was initially a £25 fee for this but, in line with the UK, it has now become free.

Those who have lived in the Island continuously for five years are able to apply for settled status immediately, while those resident for a shorter time will need to apply for ‘pre-settled status’, which will enable them to gain settled status when they become eligible.

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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