This week the English Channel has been the subject of some of the biggest naval tensions in decades.
For more than two days, warships from the United Kingdom and France were anchored in the waters off the small island of Jersey, 22 kilometers off Normandy.
The island, which had been subject to invasions, wars and conflicts for centuries, has now become a major center of post-Brexit tensions between London and the European Union (EU).
The new crisis began early last week, when more than 60 French fishing vessels sailed to a port in the island’s capital, Saint Helier.
As the British left the European camp, the fishermen protested against the new requirements and restrictions that came into force this month.
Under an agreement with the European Union, French boat owners must prove a fishing history in the area in order to obtain a license to operate on Jersey waters, but other requirements have been added without any prior notice, which now affect their work, they say.
The French government questioned the British move and offered to protect its citizens.
Shortly after the protests began, France threatened to cut off the island’s electricity from French territory, one of the largest diplomatic clashes between London and Paris in recent times.
Tensions reached such a level that two British Royal Navy ships were sent to the area, to which France responded and sent two more patrol ships.
Finally, on Thursday night (6/5), after several negotiations, the French fishing boats left the port of Jersey, thus ending the conflict with London.
At least for a while “.
“We are pleased that French fishing boats have left the Jersey suburbs. As the situation is currently being resolved, Royal Naval patrol vessels are preparing to return to port in the United Kingdom,” the British government announced.
However, experts consulted by the BBC guarantee that the situation will remain unresolved because of its causes (economic and political relations between the EU and members of the United Kingdom in the post-Brexit period).
The jersey located between France and the United Kingdom could be the trigger for further conflicts.
But why is this island so suitable for London?
A strange island
Jersey is a geographically, historically and politically bizarre place: it is the largest of the English Channel Islands and very close to France, which is considered to be culturally closer to this country than the United Kingdom.
However, it is politically dependent on London: its foreign affairs, security and “good governance” are the responsibility of the United Kingdom, although it is not officially part of it.
In fact, the mix between the two cultures is a constant there.
Most of its aboriginal people speak a strange version of the English and French languages (Norman’s sub-plate); Drive left as in the United Kingdom, but regular Normandy dishes are cooked; English cricket is a popular sport; But many town and village names are in French. The official currency is the British pound sterling.
With a population of just over 100,000, the island has never been part of the European Union or the European economy, and is considered a constitutional monarchy and autonomous parliamentary democracy, with self-determination and its own financial, legal and judicial institutions.
However, its protection is the constitutional responsibility of the United Kingdom. The island has no legal authority to appoint diplomats, and Queen Elizabeth II is considered her monarch (and head of state).
This strange political situation is related to its history and goes back to the beginning of the first millennium after Christ.
History between the two countries
In 996, the island, originally a Roman settlement, was annexed by the Duchy of Normandy, but changed its position and destination due to an event that had a profound impact on the history of Europe: the Battle of Hastings.
In October 1066, William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy invaded England and defeated King Harold II, spreading Norman power north of the English Channel.
Since then, Jersey and England have been united under a single monarchy.
After the partition of the Duchy of Normandy in 1204, the islands came under British rule, and in subsequent chapters in history France made no attempt to reclaim them.
In the Middle Ages, in fact, England lost feudal property on the European continent, but was able to keep its islands in the English Channel.
However, the United Kingdom lost its possession for a number of years: between July 1, 1940 and May 9, 1945, the island was occupied by the Nazis, who set up concentration camps where they relocated Soviet prisoners.
In fact, after the Normandy landing, the island suffered a severe famine, and the Allies seized control of the region and cut off supplies from France.
This is because Jersey’s economy and life are strategically linked to France, from which it not only derives its electricity from submarine cables, but also from whom it maintains the largest economic transfer.
Island of Corruption
Despite its small size and small population, Jersey has had a significant impact not only in Europe but also on political, economic and media life.
From the small island, the breed of cows (Jersey) evolved, and its high-fat milk, a potato (Royal Jersey), conquered world taste, and was sold worldwide for a type of mesh produced by it. Industrial textiles are popular enough to baptize a piece of clothing (in some Spanish-speaking countries, the garment is still called a jersey; in others, a sweater).
Its strategic importance to England was also remembered in the conquest of North America: in its honor, the British were baptized in one of its 13 colonies: New Jersey.
The island is also known for less interesting reasons.
A decade ago, when it became known as the Hot de la Karen case, it made headlines around the world with the ongoing abuse and pedophilia cases in an orphanage between the 1960s and 1980s.
The island’s economy and financial system have had a bad reputation for decades: it is considered one of Europe’s best tax havens.
The Tax Justice Network, which monitors corporate tax havens around the world, has rated Jersey as one of the most “aggressive” in the world in its 2019 list.
The local government has denied for years that the island is a tax haven, and guarantees that its business is conducted there “in full compliance” with standards set by “independent global organizations”.