Nearly half of all jobs in Gibraltar would be put at risk by a hard border after Brexit, according to a detailed analysis prepared by the Gibraltar Government.
The data, presented as written evidence to the House of Lords EU Select Committee by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, identifies frontier fluidity as the key concern for Gibraltar as Britain prepares to withdraw from the European Union.
Thousands of cross-border jobs in key sectors such as financial services, online gaming and tourism would be hit in the event of problems at the frontier arising from Brexit.
“The prospect of a closed or hard border is the most serious single issue that arises for Gibraltar from Brexit,” the Gibraltar Government said in the written submission.
“A frontier which lacked the necessary fluidity for people to be able to access their places of work would therefore put directly at risk the jobs of 40% of the entire Gibraltar workforce.”
The Gibraltar Government’s written evidence was published by the Lords committee last week and reflects Mr Picardo’s oral submissions during a session in London last month.
The 32-page document highlighted key issues such as Gibraltar’s position on sovereignty and its view that Britain must guard against any move by Spain to use Brexit to further its aspirations over the Rock.
And while it also set out Gibraltar’s efforts to generate new areas of business outside the EU, the submission was clear that when it comes to Brexit, “there are for Gibraltar few opportunities worthy of mention.”
While much of the sentiment in the evidence has already been publicly rehearsed, the detailed “heat mapping” of the sectorial impact of Brexit on the border has never been revealed before.
Using data from October 2015, the study found that out of a total workforce of 26,144 employees, 10,473 jobs in Gibraltar were held by frontier workers.
Of those cross-border workers, 5,824 were Spanish nationals, a figure that fluctuated daily and increased sharply when there were construction projects in Gibraltar.
In key sectors of the economy, the potential impact of a troublesome border were plainly evident, in particular when it came to financial services and online gaming, which together account for 40% of the Gibraltar’s GDP.
A total of 1,031 frontier workers were employed in financial services, accounting for 30% of all jobs in that sector, while the figure rose to 1,761 employees, or 60%, in the online gaming sector.
“It cannot be assumed that these frontier workers would relocate to Gibraltar in the event of a harder, non-fluid border,” the government’s analysis said.
“The majority of them are in the lower paid sectors and will not be able to afford to reside in Gibraltar [while] those in the higher paid sectors may be unlikely to want to move to Gibraltar, and, in any event, there is presently a shortage of space and housing stock in Gibraltar to be able to accommodate any significant number of them.”
“The loss of any significant number of these frontier workers would affect direct Government revenue by way of loss of income tax receipts.”
“It will also affect the general economy, especially in sectors which are heavily dependent on frontier workers and with the loss of these jobs to the economy.”
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