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Island Remains Vigilant Over EU 15 December 2003

The Isle of Man will remain vigilant to protect its interests in relation to developments within the European Union, Chief Minister Richard Corkill MHK said today (Friday, December 12, 2003).

Mr Corkill was commenting as EU leaders began a summit in Brussels to discuss the proposed new EU Constitutional Treaty. The Isle of Man is not part of the European Union but has a special relationship with it, known as Protocol 3, allowing the free movement of goods and people.

Said the Chief Minister:

"Whatever the outcome of this latest EU meeting, it is vital that the Isle of Man continues to keep a close eye on European developments to ensure that our interests are not infringed. The Manx Governmentís approach to the EU Constitution issue was set out in a Council of Ministers report to Tynwald in October this year. That report concluded that the proposed constitution was not expected to affect the Islandís position, but that we must maintain a careful watch on the progress of this initiative."

Mr Corkill said a recent example of the Islandís vigilance was its challenge, along with Jersey and Guernsey, to a proposal from the Netherlands that had emerged during discussions on the proposed EU Constitution.

The proposal would have altered the process for changing the relationships between the EU and the dependencies of Member States. This proposal was mainly for the Netherlandís own overseas territories but it would, inadvertently, have allowed an amendment to Protocol 3 to be possible at European Council level, rather than at an Inter-Governmental Conference. All reference to the Crown Dependencies has now been removed from the proposal.

However, there was never any suggestion that the EU Commission could unilaterally alter the status of dependencies. Any such change would still have needed unanimity amongst all Member States, as at present, and by constitutional convention the UK would require the Islandís consent before agreeing.

The Chief Minister commented:

"I am pleased that no change is proposed to the process by which Protocol 3 could be amended. Even though the Netherlands proposal would not have posed a significant threat to the relationship, our response demonstrates the Islandís vigilance in favour of the status quo."

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