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Welcome to the States of Guernsey's Brexit page, where you'll find important information about the UK's exit from the EU and any related impacts for our community.

Please see below for an overview of Brexit and links at the bottom to pages containing relevant information on a range of key areas.

  • What is Brexit?

    • Brexit is the term used to refer to the process of the United Kingdom's (UK) withdrawal from the European Union (EU). A referendum was held on Thursday 23 June 2016 to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the EU. The leave vote won with 51.9%, with the remain vote at 48.1%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%.
    • Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which empowers the process of an EU Member State to leave the EU, was triggered by the former UK Prime Minister on 29 March 2017. This set a two year negotiating period for the UK and EU to decide on the terms of leaving and set a leave date. While a Withdrawal Agreement has been reached, it has yet to be agreed by Parliament. A Brexit extension period to 31 January 2020 has been agreed by the UK and EU.
  • Guernsey's relationship with the EU 

    • Introduction
    • In 1967 Guernsey was faced with the prospect of the United Kingdom joining the European Economic Community (EEC). The United Kingdom Government at that time held out no prospect of the Bailiwick of Guernsey having a limited connection with the EEC, which it contended would require a modification of the Treaty of Rome which, in all inevitability, would not be granted. It seemed in 1967 there were two options for Guernsey - to become part of the EEC or to seek independence.
    • The loss of long established virtual sovereignty was plainly at risk if Guernsey joined the EEC. There was great concern locally, however the UK's application to join was rejected.
    • In 1971, when the UK Government renewed its application to join the Community, similar issues confronted the islands.
    • Happily, as a result of representations made to the Home Office and able negotiating by the UK Government's chief negotiator, The Right Honourable Geoffrey Rippon, a deal acceptable to the Channel Islands and Isle of Man was negotiated.
    • On 19th November 1971, Geoffrey Rippon addressed the States of Deliberation in special session. He said: "Under the proposals your fiscal autonomy has been guaranteed. I can say quite categorically that there will be no question of your having to apply a value-added tax or any part of Community policy on taxation."
    • He offered "a choice of accepting or rejecting the terms that have been negotiated", and stated that it was not for him "to try to influence you in that decision, because the decision is yours, and yours alone. I can only say to you today that I know what my decision would be".
    • On 15th December 1971 the States of Guernsey concurred by voting unanimously to accept the negotiated terms.
    • Protocol 3 to the UK Treaty of Accession to the European Economic Community
    • Guernsey is neither a separate Member State nor an Associate Member of the European Union. The terms relating exclusively to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man were subsequently embodied in Protocol No. 3 of the Treaty of Accession of the United Kingdom to the EEC, signed on 22 January 1972.
    • Protocol No. 3 placed the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man within the Common Customs territory and the Common External Tariff of the EEC. Broadly speaking this means that no customs duties are applied to goods exported to members of the customs union but a common customs tariff applies to goods imported into the customs union from non-member countries.
    • Protocol 3 also provides that Guernsey is "within" the EU for most of the purposes of the free movement of goods (e.g. so that Articles 28, 30, 34-36 and 110 of what is now the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union ("TFEU") apply) but outside the EU for other purposes, in particular non-customs related fiscal matters and the free movement of persons and services. The Islands are not eligible for assistance from the Union's structural funds or under the support measures for agricultural markets.
    • Under Protocol 3 the authorities in the Bailiwick have to treat natural and legal persons of the European Union equally and therefore in a non-discriminatory manner. Although Channel Islanders are British citizens and hence European citizens, they are not entitled to take advantage of the freedom of movement of people or services unless they are directly connected (through birth, descent from a parent or grandparent, or five years' continuous residence with the United Kingdom). This means that some Islanders with a very pure Guernsey family heritage do not have freedom of movement within the EU and their passports are marked accordingly. They are reducing in number year by year. These passports are marked with the words "The holder is not entitled to benefit from EU provisions relating to employment or establishment". They can of course seek work permits or secure a university place allocated to non-EU citizens.
    • Application of EU law
    • In the early years after Protocol 3 came into force, it was a relatively simple matter to identify what legislation was needed in Guernsey to implement EU Directives and to identify applicable EU Regulations falling within the scope of Protocol 3 because they tended to be made in a compartmentalised way according to subject matter. Nowadays, matters have become more complicated and a provision relating to say agriculture might be found in a Directive about development or climate change.
    • In brief, Regulations are directly applicable in EU Member States. Insofar as they are binding on the Bailiwick under Protocol 3, they have immediate legal effect and form part of Bailiwick law without the need to enact local legislation.
    • Directives, on the other hand, are binding on Member States in terms of the result to be achieved but it is for national authorities to decide the form and methods of implementing them. Insofar as they may be applicable under Protocol 3, they can be implemented by Ordinance under the European Communities (Implementation) (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 1994, as amended. This means that the Bailiwick can bring relevant legislation into effect swiftly without the need for Royal Assent. Further, under this law, the Bailiwick (meaning for this purpose the States of Guernsey in relation to Guernsey; States of Alderney in relation to Alderney and Chief Pleas in relation to Sark), has the power to implement "any provision" of EU law, whether or not it falls within Protocol 3. This means that other provisions of EU law which might, for example, be thought of interest to the Bailiwick may be brought into force under this legislation even if there is no obligation to do so under the terms of Protocol 3.
    • Development of EU competencies and the Bailiwick
    • In 1985 the European Community initiated the single market initiative. It was a community strategy to intensify harmonisation and it included monetary union in 2002 with the introduction of the Euro.
    • In 1992 the Maastricht Treaty changed a purely economic community into a union embracing additional areas of co-operation. It enacted a three pillar legal structure for the EU. It included new intergovernmental sections covering co-operation in foreign and security policy, police and judicial co-operation.
    • In 2007, the Lisbon Treaty was agreed. The Treaty implemented some of the reforms proposed by the Constitutional Treaty, which had been agreed in 2004 before being subsequently rejected by several member States, such as, inter alia: giving the Union a single legal personality; adapting the institutional framework; replacing the term 'Community' with 'Union'; and creating a new architecture of treaties. The Lisbon Treaty also abolished the pillar system replacing it with categories of competence, namely, conferred, shared and supporting competences, alongside special competences such as Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and gave legal force to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. The EU legal personality enables it to conclude treaties within its area of competence,
    • So far as the Channel Islands and Isle of Man are concerned, it is for each to consider the extent to which they wish to take on board any intergovernmental measures. No such EU obligation arises under Protocol 3. It would be for the islands themselves to decide whether, and to what extent, they wished to be included in any such measures and the United Kingdom has undertaken that the islands will be fully consulted about any such measures which may affect them.
  • UK and EU position papers

    • The UK Government Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) is responsible for overseeing the UK's Brexit negotiations. DExEU regularly publishes documents relating to UK proposals as part of Brexit negotiations. To see the latest documents from the UK please visit: UK position documents
    • The European Commission Task Force is responsible for overseeing the EU 27's Brexit negotiations. The Task Force regularly publishes documents relating to EU proposals as part of Brexit negotiations. To see the latest documents from the EU 27 please visit: EU position documents
  • Withdrawal Agreement

    • A Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future relationship between the UK and EU was endorsed at a special meeting of the European Council on 25 November 2018. However, the Withdrawal Agreement failed to receive the approval of the UK Parliament, having been rejected by MPs on three occasions. It can be found here: Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration
    • A new Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration was agreed at the European Council on 17 October 2019. The Withdrawal Agreement has not yet received UK Parliament approval. It can be found here: New Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration


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