The GSD yesterday welcomed the broad thrust of the agreements announced by the UK and Gibraltar governments, but struck a note of caution and said firmer guarantees were needed.
The GSD described the agreements as “an interim package”, highlighting that the commitments on market access were limited in that they were guaranteed only to 2020.
“While the Gibraltar Government in the first line of its press release says that it is ‘delighted that the United Kingdom Government has guaranteed the continuation of market access for financial services…..into the UK once we have both left the European Union’, it is clear from the UK Government statement that the commitment is rather more limited,” said GSD Leader Keith Azopardi.
“Indeed the headline to the UK’s statement reads: ‘The UK will guarantee Gibraltar financial services firms’ access to UK markets as now until 2020.’”
“This is clearly a commitment only till 2020 and in the meantime a promise to work with the Gibraltar Government to put in place arrangements beyond 2020.”
“The GSD hopes that such arrangements will be put in place beyond 2020 but it is important to understand that, for now, this is all it is.”
“The GSD considers that almost two years after Brexit it is disappointing to only get a half-measure announced in respect of financial services.”
Mr Azopardi added that the “so-called measures” on transport, the environment and fisheries amounted to “commitments to cooperate and keep talking”.
He said the GSD was not diminishing the importance of some of the announcements made yesterday, which were important “as far as they go”.
He said it was important to acknowledge clear commitments when they have been made.
But Mr Azopardi added too that it was equally important “not to over-exaggerate the thrust of these measures”.
“There is clearly still a lot of work to be done to guarantee market access to financial services firms beyond 2020,” he said.
“We hope that today’s statements provide comfort to financial services firms that the groundwork has firmly been laid towards a future announcement of a more enduring arrangement.”
“Additionally these measures of course only deal with UK market access.”
“There is nothing in this set of announcements that addresses wider concerns about the extension of transitional arrangements or future trade deals with the EU to Gibraltar.”
Mr Azopardi’s comments drew a stinging response from Chief Minister Fabian Picardo last night, however.
“It appears Mr Azopardi hasn’t understood the importance of what has been agreed today for the transitional period and how advanced the work is for the period beyond that,” Mr Picardo said.
“In addition, he fails to understand how this settles any uncertainty there may have been in the market and the fact this progress is in relation to the bilateral issues we are discussing with the UK.”
“This is, in fact, excellent progress and has been welcomed as such by those who have no political axe to grind.”
“I shall be explaining these matters in greater detail in Parliament next Friday. He should tune in to watch what I have to say.”