EU vote has 'substantial implications' for Jersey

Senator Philip Bailhache Image copyright bbc
Image caption Senator Philip Bailhache says officials are 'evaluating possibilities' in event of British EU exit

The UK's potential exit from the EU is under "very close consideration", says Jersey's external relations minister.

Senator Philip Bailhache said a UK exit from the EU would have "substantial implications" for the crown dependency.

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum on EU membership if he wins the 2015 general election.

Self-governed Jersey is not part of the UK or EU but its trade relationship with Europe is governed via the UK's membership.

During States questions on Monday, Deputy John Le Fondre asked Senator Bailhache what preparation Jersey was making should Britain leave the EU.

"A great deal of work has been done and is being done to try to evaluate the different possibilities open to Jersey in such a scenario," said Senator Bailhache.

"But there are numerous different permutations which make it difficult to formulate any precise plan at this stage."

'Relationship would fall'

Alastair Sutton, an EU law expert who has advised both Jersey and the European Commission, said Jersey's relationship with the EU amounted to free trade in goods.

Such trade was wholly dependent on the UK's EU membership, he told BBC News.

"Jersey is only associated with the EU in any shape or form by virtue of the fact that it falls under the sovereignty of the UK," said Mr Sutton.

"If the UK were to leave, that relationship would fall.

"There would be no question of Jersey negotiating its own relationship unless it became sovereign, because the EU does not negotiate with non-sovereigns."

Senator Bailhache said full independence would be considered if it was in the interests of the island.

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