The UK Government has guaranteed Gibraltar’s continued access to the UK market for financial services and online gaming against the backdrop of Brexit, sending a clear message of reassurance to a critical sector of the Rock’s economy.
UK ministers also provided assurance that British citizens resident in Gibraltar would continue to enjoy access to higher education in UK universities at the same rates as UK students, as is currently the case.
The UK Government further agreed to maintain the current reciprocal arrangements between the UK and Gibraltar on health services, as well as enhance cooperation on environmental and fisheries matters.
The agreements cement months of detailed work under the framework of the Joint Ministerial Council [JMC] between the UK and Gibraltar on Brexit matters.
The UK market accounts for over 90% of all business conducted by Gibraltar-based companies under EU single market rules. As such, the UK’s guarantees offer a solid message of reassurance to Gibraltar-based companies that their access to this key market will be maintained irrespective of the impact of Brexit.
Under the measures, the UK will guarantee Gibraltar financial services firms’ access to UK markets as now until 2020.
Ahead of this, the UK Government will work closely with the Government of Gibraltar to design a replacement framework to endure beyond 2020 similarly based on shared, high standards of regulation and enforcement, and underpinned by modern arrangements for information-sharing, transparency and regulatory co-operation.
“Great care has rightly been taken by the UK and Gibraltar to ensure regulatory standards will be maintained between us in a manner that will be designed to assure customer protection and equivalence on regulatory outcomes going forward,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
“Today our bilateral relationship grows stronger and the terms for it to endure are further cemented as we realise the commitment to maintain and enhance market access for Gibraltar service providers into the UK post-Brexit.”
The announcement was made in London after a meeting of the JMC chaired by the Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union, Robin Walker, and attended by the Minister for Europe, Sir Alan Duncan, and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen. The Gibraltar delegation was led by Mr Picardo and included the Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for EU Exit, Dr Joseph Garcia, Attorney General Michael Llamas, Financial Secretary Albert Mena and UK Representative Dominique Searle.
The UK Government said the measures secured “the strong, historic and valued UK-Gibraltar relationship” both now and beyond Brexit.
“Today we have agreed a positive package deal on issues surrounding our exit from the EU, once again demonstrating that we stand shoulder to shoulder with Gibraltarians in our unwavering commitment to the UK-Gibraltar relationship,” Mr Walker said.
The UK Government acknowledged too the importance to Gibraltar-based companies of the announcement on continued barrier-free access to the UK.
“We know the people and businesses of Gibraltar have been asking for certainty, and we have heard them,” the Treasury’s Mr Glen said.
“We are ensuring that Gibraltar’s access to UK markets will continue unchanged until 2020, even in the unlikely event of no deal being reached.”
“This will give us the time we need to work with the Government of Gibraltar to design a new, modernised agreement, based on similar, high standards of regulation and enforcement.”