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Chief Minister heads Isle of Man Government Delegation to Brussels 13 September 2007

CHIEF Minister Tony Brown MHK has led his first delegation to Brussels in the latest Isle of Man Government visit to the heart of the European Union.

Mr Brown returned to the Island yesterday evening (Wednesday, September 12, 2007) after two days of meetings at the European Commission and European Parliament, accompanied by Chief Secretary Mary Williams and Director of External Relations Della Fletcher.

The Chief Minister commented:

‘The Isle of Man is not a member of the EU but it can still influence us in a variety of ways. It is vital that we continue to cultivate contacts in Brussels to monitor developments that may be relevant to us, and to explain the Isle of Man’s position.’
‘We have to keep on top of issues that may affect the future of the Island and the development of our economy, which now operates in a global environment. The bottom line in all this is that we need good international relations to pave the way for continued economic growth, which in turn supports jobs, living standards and public services for the people of the Isle of Man.’

The meetings allowed the Chief Minister and his delegation the opportunity to discuss a diverse range of current significant issues with EU insiders.

Among these was Jacqueline Minor, the Director of Single Market Policies, who provided a useful update on the review being conducted into the single market, concentrating in particular on the effect of the EU upon citizens. Among other things, the review will be assessing matters as wide-ranging as professional qualifications and auditing standards in jurisdictions within and outside Europe for their equivalency to EU standards.

Michael Aron, head of the Scottish Government EU Office, gave a helpful insight into how Scotland, as a devolved administration, promotes its interests in Europe. The Northern Irish MEP James Nicholson, a member of a Parliamentary Committee on agriculture and fisheries, offered his thoughts on many issues within those sectors.

Discussions were held with John Richardson, Director of the Task Force leading the EU’s proposed new Maritime Policy, which was the subject of a special workshop – involving island representatives from across Europe – hosted by the Isle of Man in April this year. Mr Richardson expressed his interest in following up some of these related issues with a future visit to the Isle of Man.

The Centre for European Policy Studies, a Brussels-based research think-tank provided an informative briefing on a range of financial and monetary topics.

The Manx contingent also caught up with Den Dover MEP, a long-established friend of the Isle of Man who over the years has helped to strengthen the Island’s contacts amongst his political colleagues.

The two day series of meetings also included a behind the scenes round-up from Alastair Sutton of the law firm White & Case – the Isle of Man Government’s ‘eyes and ears’ in Brussels – on relevant issues and initiatives.

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