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Préfet of Brittany makes first visit to the Channel Islands

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Thursday 19 October 2017

The Préfet of Brittany, Mr Christophe Mirmand, visited Jersey today, Thursday 19 October, to meet representatives from the Governments of Guernsey and Jersey, as part of the growing relationship between the Islands and the Brittany region.

This is the first time that a Préfet of Brittany has visited the Channel Islands. As Préfet, Mr Mirmand represents the French Prime Minister and Government in the region. His main responsibilities are representing the state at local government level, security - including the coordination of the police and gendarmerie forces, and safety - especially coordination in the event of a natural disaster and subsequent relief operations.

Mr Mirmand met with delegations from both Islands, including the Chief Minister of Jersey, Senator Ian Gorst; Senator Sir Philip Bailhache, the Jersey Minister for External Relations; Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq, Policy & Resources Committee Member with responsibility for External Relations in Guernsey; and Deputy Mary Lowe, President of the Committee for Home Affairs in Guernsey.

During his visit, Mr Mirmand discussed ongoing engagement between the Channel Islands and France, both at a national and regional level, and was briefed on matters including emergency planning and maritime rescue, as well as the Islands' strong energy and fishing links with the Brittany region. Mr Mirmand was also updated on both Islands' objectives and preparations for Brexit.

The visit was organised by BIAN, the Bureau des Isles Anglo-Normandes, the representative office of the Channel Islands in France. The office was established in 2014 and is based in Caen. Its mission is to promote and facilitate political, economic, cultural, educational and operational links with the French government and its institutions at departmental, regional and national levels.

The Channel Islands have a burgeoning friendship with Brittany, having built especially good relations with the closest department, Ille et Vilaine. The Islands entered into a partnership agreement with the department in June 2017, and have already agreed on an action plan of projects to pursue together during the year, including the projection of the prestigious Rennes Opera "Carmen" at Jersey Library during the French festival in July.

Senator Bailhache commented:

"I am delighted that the Préfet of Brittany has taken the opportunity to visit Jersey, and to engage with the governments of the Channel Islands. On important topics of mutual interest, we value the strong and enduring friendship with our closest geographic neighbour. At a time when Brexit means that our relationship with the European Union will be changing, developing partnerships with the regions of Brittany and Normandy is ever more important."

Deputy Le Tocq also welcomed the visit, saying:

"I was honoured to be able to meet with the Préfet during his first visit to the Channel Islands. Guernsey has important cultural, historic and social links with France, and with our close neighbours in Brittany in particular. At this time of global change, as the negotiations for the UK's withdrawal from the EU continue, it is imperative for Guernsey to continue to strengthen and develop its own existing relationships. I look forward to continuing to work together with Brittany to develop and strengthen our important relationships."

The Prefet's visit concluded with a meeting with Deputy Lowe and Deputy Kristina Moore, the Jersey Minister for Home Affairs, on the cooperation between the Channel Islands and Brittany in matters of policing and customs.

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