Gibraltar: British Government Confirms Barrier-Free Access To U.K. For Gibraltar Financial Services Licensees

Last Updated: 27 March 2018
Article by Selwyn Figueras

The British Government has today confirmed that Gibraltar Financial Services providers and Gibraltar gaming operators will continue to have access to the U.K. markets post-Brexit by means of a bilateral arrangement designed to secure freedom of movement of services between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom. This confirms the commitment given by Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade last October at the Gibraltar Government's Gibraltar Day in London.

The commitment is set against the backdrop of the concerns Gibraltar had harboured about the impact of the loss of EU passporting of services. In the event, it was determined in the weeks that followed the referendum that over 90% of the financial services activity generated in Gibraltar was U.K. facing, meaning that Brexit would, in that context, represent only a very limited impact if access to the U.K. could be negotiated bilaterally.

The Senior Partner at ISOLAS LLP, Peter Isola, remarked on the news, explaining that this was an important and long anticipated confirmation of a commitment given by the UK Government to the Government of Gibraltar. He continued; "I believe that this development serves to confirm the view that Gibraltar is poised to become a conduit for business into the U.K. post Brexit. It will also serve to increase confidence in the local market, one which is buoyed still further by a cautious optimism that we can retain a fully functioning border with Spain post-Brexit. This, in tandem with the important growth in Gibraltar of the financial Distributed Ledger technology industry, in which ISOLAS is leading the way, gives much for us to look forward to in terms of long term and sustainable levels of activity and growth in key areas of economic activity."

On on-line gaming, the UK have provided an assurance that gambling operators based in Gibraltar will continue to access the UK market after we leave the EU in the same way they do now - and we are working towards agreement of a MOU which will enable closer working and collaboration between gambling regulators in Gibraltar and the UK.

The UK have also provided an assurance to the Government of Gibraltar that, following EU Exit, British Citizens resident in Gibraltar will continue to be eligible for higher education Home fee status at English Institutions (both during the Implementation Period and afterwards) subject to concluding a reciprocal agreement for English students studying at Higher Education Institutions in Gibraltar.

On Health, the United Kingdom has agreed to maintain the current reciprocal arrangement between the UK and Gibraltar. This means that Gibraltar can continue to refer an unlimited number of our patients to the UK for free elective treatment.

Gibraltar and the UK have also agreed to recognise the importance of enhancing our liaison on all of the environmental and fisheries implications of EU exit that are relevant to Gibraltar, whether by sharing information as openly as we can, by providing specialist expertise across a range of policy areas to support Gibraltar with its own preparations, or by considering with Gibraltar where its interests might be promoted in future through regional or international agreements.

Finally, on transport matters, the UK has expressed its commitment to work closely with the Government of Gibraltar towards transport arrangements post EU Exit that support Gibraltar's prosperity.

Following the meeting, Minister Robin Walker said:

"It was good to meet with Chief Minister Fabian Picardo today, and continue our ongoing constructive engagement with Gibraltar on the process of our EU exit. We agreed a positive package deal on issues surrounding our exit from the EU which ensures that the relationship we have built over hundreds of years remains solid and undented."

The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said:

"The work we have done with the teams led by Secretary of State David Davis at DeExEU and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at the FCO is bearing fruit today. The UK - and in particular Mr Davis and Mr Johnson - has recognised the importance of market access for Gibraltar and Robin Walker and Sir Alan Duncan have worked hard with us to make the announcements today a reality. Great care has rightly been taken by the UK and Gibraltar to ensure regulatory standards will be maintained between us in a manner than will de designed to assure customer protection and equivalence on regulatory outcomes going forward. 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. There is a lot to celebrate in this and a lot of hard work to recognise on the part also of the team in Gibraltar, in particular the Deputy Chief Minister and the Attorney General, and in the UK FCO, DeExEU, Treasury, DCMS, Cabinet Office and Downing Street. I extend the gratitude of Her Majesty's Government of Gibraltar and the people of Gibraltar to all involved."

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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