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Guernsey attends 35th British-Irish Council Summit

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Friday 11 June 2021

Guernsey's President of the Policy & Resources Committee, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, today attended the 35th British-Irish Council (BIC) Summit hosted by the Northern Ireland Executive.

Due to the ongoing travel restrictions in place for arrivals into Guernsey, Deputy Ferbrache attended the Summit via video conference. The Summit focused on political developments within BIC Member Administrations, including the new relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union and the implementation of the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, and a discussion on priorities for Covid-19 recovery.

The Summit was hosted by The Rt Hon Arlene Foster MLA, First Minister, and Michelle O'Neill MLA, deputy First Minister, of the Northern Ireland Executive. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland represented the UK Government at the Summit, and the Irish Government was represented by An Taoiseach, An Tánaiste and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence. The First Minister of Wales and First Minister of Scotland were also in attendance. The Chief Ministers of Jersey and the Isle of Man attended along with Jersey's Minister for External Relations and the Isle of Man's Minister for Education, Sport and Culture.

Member Administrations discussed the impact of Covid-19 on their jurisdictions and the priorities for recovery from the pandemic including areas of coherence across the Member Administrations, as well as planning for potential future impacts of Covid-19.

Member Administrations also picked up from previous discussions at the virtual Summit hosted by the Scottish Government in November 2020 on the implications of the UK's exit from the EU. In particular this focussed on the new relationship in place under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement following the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

Deputy Peter Ferbrache, President of the Policy & Resources Committee said:

"I was very pleased to virtually attend the 35th British-Irish Council Summit today, which was hosted by Northern Ireland for the first time since the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive in 2020. The BIC forum is an important opportunity for Guernsey to engage and contribute on a wide range of policy matters with Heads of Administration from across the UK, Ireland and the Crown Dependencies. The meeting today reinforced the importance of the BIC and highlighted the common issues affecting all of the Member Administrations.

Managing the impact of and developing the long-term response to Covid-19 has been a priority for the government of Guernsey since the start of the pandemic, and is recognised as one of the main priorities in the Government Work Plan. The discussion today on priorities for recovery and planning for potential future impacts of Covid-19 provided a welcome opportunity to discuss a range of initiatives being implemented and to learn from the work currently being undertaken in the other Member Administrations.

Since the UK's decision in June 2016 to withdraw from the EU, the significance of the BIC forum has continued to grow.  Guernsey is the smallest of the Member Administrations but has an equal voice in the Council. The British-Irish Council continues to provide an invaluable opportunity to enhance our engagement and strengthen our relationships with representatives from across the UK, Ireland and the Crown Dependencies.

I look forward to the BIC forum continuing to develop and evolve as the political relationships between its Member Administrations change, and to Guernsey continuing to play its part."

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